Apple agrees to subject products to Chinese government security audits - report

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
China's State Internet Information Office will reportedly be allowed to conduct network security inspections of Apple products offered for sale in China as the company seeks to assuage fears that its devices can be used for intelligence gathering purposes by foreign governments.

China's State Internet Information Office chief Lu Wei speaks with Apple CEO Tim Cook during a visit to Cupertino
China's State Internet Information Office chief Lu Wei speaks with Apple CEO Tim Cook during a visit to Cupertino


Apple CEO Tim Cook agreed to the inspections during a meeting with State Internet Information Office head Lu Wei last month in Cupertino, according to the Beijing News. The report was first noted by ZDNet.

Cook is said to have assured Lu that while there were "rumors of us keeping backdoors and providing data to third parties," the company has "never had any backdoors and never will."

Lu then told Cook that Apple's "products must pass the inspections done by our network safety officers," who will then "make conclusions and insure our customers." The exchange was recounted to the News by another Chinese official present during the meeting.

Apple has been under fire in China for nearly a year following allegations of the company's complicity in spying by the National Security Agency. Apple has denied those charges, but the Chinese government has continued to paint the company in an unfavorable light.

Last July, China Central Television called iOS location tracking "a national security concern." During the program, the state-owned broadcaster relayed information from Chinese researchers suggesting that the iPhone's "Frequent Locations" functionality could inadvertently reveal sensitive information, and "even state secrets."

Shortly after that report, Apple began storing Chinese users' iCloud data in a datacenter within the People's Republic. In a statement to AppleInsider, the company noted that all data within that datacenter --?operated by state-owned firm China Telecom --?was encrypted, and that "China Telecom does not have access to the content."

Then, in October, the Chinese government was implicated in a series of malicious attacks against iCloud users. The issue was so severe that Cook almost immediately traveled to China and met with Vice Premier Ma Kai, and the two are said to have discussed "protection of users' information," as well as "strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Wonder how that will happen and not support the Chinese copy machine engine.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,872member
    You know Chinese government was looking for excuse provided by Mr. Edward Snowden for making American companies life measurable and difficult to sell products in China. This is one example.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,282member
    Reading between the lines I would think that means Apple is supplying iOS source-code to the Chinese so they can "assuage fears that its devices can be used for intelligence gathering purposes by[B] foreign [/B]governments."

    Probably too much in potential profits to just say no.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    "We want our 'investigators' to have access to your most sensitive corporate secrets so we can pass them along to our own government, Mr. Cook."
  • Reply 5 of 31

    Way to cave, Cook, way to cave. Not happy about this. What's to stop the US government from demanding access now?

  • Reply 6 of 31
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

    Way to cave, Cook, way to cave. Not happy about this. What's to stop the US government from demanding access now?




    I have no idea how an 'inspection' will happen but I cannot imagine Apple will just open the source code to be copied / tampered with. On the face of it this seems like a reasonable request that I would assume every government would insist upon. 

  • Reply 7 of 31
    paxman wrote: »

    I have no idea how an 'inspection' will happen but I cannot imagine Apple will just open the source code to be copied / tampered with. On the face of it this seems like a reasonable request that I would assume every government would insist upon. 

    That's what I was thinking.
  • Reply 8 of 31

    I'm sure all the information gathered in these so called inspections will be passed along to Huawei and Xiaomi. 

  • Reply 9 of 31
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member

    And Lenovo? They all need inspection and auditing before sale in the U.S.

  • Reply 10 of 31
    boltsfan17 wrote: »
    I'm sure all the information gathered in these so called inspections will be passed along to Huawei and Xiaomi. 

    Obvs!
  • Reply 11 of 31
    cpsro wrote: »
    And Lenovo? They all need inspection and auditing before sale in the U.S.

    Let's just cut to the chase and get China kicked out of the WTO.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,496member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    "We want our 'investigators' to have access to your most sensitive corporate secrets so we can pass them along to our own government, Mr. Cook."



    Tim is one smart cookie.  There is no way he would be bamboozled into handing the Chinese government anything that they can put into a copy-machine.  They may be able to copy power-tools and furniture, but to hack, and maintain a rogue copy of iOS, consistently that will be used by hundreds of millions of tech-savvy Chinese consumers? No way.  They just don't have the chops for that.

  • Reply 13 of 31
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    Let's just cut to the chase and get China kicked out of the WTO.

    Best defense is not to buy their homegrown products. Let Apple do the auditing of its own products.

  • Reply 14 of 31
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Reading between the lines I would think that means Apple is supplying iOS source-code to the Chinese so they can "assuage fears that its devices can be used for intelligence gathering purposes by foreign governments."

    Probably too much in potential profits to just say no.

    In the industry this kind of audits happen at manufacturer premises, where only authorized people can browse and review code with assistance of local personnel, in a secure environment, for a limited time.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    Love it! And credit to Apple for recognizing that China is a sovereign nation that has a right to protect its interests - and like the US, spy on everyone else. I've got more faith in Tim Cook to protect his own technology and not agree to anything compromising privacy that I do in the US government.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by paxman View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

    Way to cave, Cook, way to cave. Not happy about this. What's to stop the US government from demanding access now?




    I have no idea how an 'inspection' will happen but I cannot imagine Apple will just open the source code to be copied / tampered with. On the face of it this seems like a reasonable request that I would assume every government would insist upon. 


    Exactly. We essentially do the same with Huawei equipment.

  • Reply 17 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

     

    And Lenovo? They all need inspection and auditing before sale in the U.S.


    This is a very good point.

  • Reply 18 of 31

    So, when Chinese officials examine the iPhones and passes them as secure and without spying software, can we finally put to rest Ed Snowden's paranoid b.s.? Oh, wait, then it will be that Apple sent special phones to China or China is in on it all and passes them while putting their own spy software on the phones, blah blah blah.

  • Reply 19 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by paxman View Post

     



    I have no idea how an 'inspection' will happen but I cannot imagine Apple will just open the source code to be copied / tampered with. On the face of it this seems like a reasonable request that I would assume every government would insist upon. 


     

    A lot of the code security-critical code is open source to begin with. Remember goto fail?

     

    The difference in the US and NATO countries is that the government does not inspect the product/code themselves, but comes out with standards (FIPS 140, Common Criteria, etc.) and companies hire an accredited private company to do the inspection.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,496member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    Let's just cut to the chase and get China kicked out of the WTO.

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

     

    Best defense is not to buy their homegrown products. Let Apple do the auditing of its own products.




    I try really hard not to buy anything made in China and that is difficult to say the least.  Actually, it's frustrating.  I can count on one hand the number of times ever I shopped at Walmart.  If I go into a store to buy something, I will make an effort to locate a made-in-USA product, even if it means paying more for the product.  



    I recently watched a documentary "Death by China" documenting what that corrupt government is doing, and how American companies are literally handing the keys to them.  The subject matter was spot-on, even though the diatribe could maybe have been toned down a bit.  It cements my belief that China has an agenda.



    So yes, kick them out of the WTO.  They joined, and literally gave everyone the finger while continuing to break every rule the WTO has.

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