With great fame come great responsibilities! No, I’m not quoting Spiderman (mainly because it isn’t from Spiderman), but rather I’m pointing at the condition of Apple. The latest accusations that knocked on Apple’s door now comes from China, who is accusing Apple of using its product’s location monitoring capabilities to spy on the country and her internal workings. Apple however has refuted the claims in a recent statement put up on their Chinese website.
The feature of the iOS 7 that set off the Chinese alarm bells is called Frequent Locations. And like the name suggests, it is a feature, through which the iOS keeps a tab of the locations the users frequent using a combination of GPS, WiFi and cell tower triangulation. According to the Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), who also quotes researchers that have looked into this “security threat”, this kind of information can eventually lead to threats to national security and even leaking of “state secrets”.
Apple was quick to respond to the accusations, citing that their devices never transmit any unique identifier while using the features. The feature is an assistive technology that is there to help the user to get their regular tasks done faster and without any hassles. The feature can be easily turned off via the privacy settings.
Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about.
In addition, the tech giant also adds that the location data and map data that iOS uses to compute the locations are mostly stored locally on the devices cache, which is encrypted using the user’s passcode. iOS doesn’t transmit any location related data to the Apple servers and thus there is no way that Apple can track the users of their products. The only data that is not stored on the device is a crowd sourced database of public WiFi access points and cell towers. This database is used in order to speed up the location calculation instead of relying solely on GPS which would require a larger amount of time. Apple ensures that while accessing the database, however, there are no unique identifiers transmitted that can actually link the device to any individuals.
According to the statement, Apple emphasizes that they feel strongly about user security and have never or will never work with third party agencies to allow spying or access to their databases.