Apple has denied allegations that location-tracking iPhone features pose a threat to China’s national security and could expose state secrets.
“Apple does not track users’ locations – Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so,” the company said in a posting on its Chinese website.
“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,” the statement concluded.
The company also noted that Apple gives customers control over collection and use of location data on all devices, and that location services are not enabled by default.
Apple was responding to a claim on state-owned television that the iPhone’s location functions can collect data that may result in a leak of state secrets.
The claim was made by Ma Ding, head of the online security institute at People’s Public Security University of China.
Apple said the iPhone’s "frequent locations" tracking function is used to record frequently visited locations in order to speed up applications that show a user’s location or for driving directions that avoid traffic.
The smartphone maker said personal location information is stored only on the iPhone and protected by a user password. The data is not shared with third parties.
Apple began selling the iPhone in China in January through the world’s largest mobile phone carrier China Mobile, which has more than 760 million subscribers, reports The Guardian.
China Mobile recorded 1.2 million iPhone pre-orders before its release on the network, which Apple chief executive Tim Cook labelled a “watershed moment”, the paper said.