China brands the iPhone a threat to national security

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China brands the iPhone a threat to national security

Controversy arises over tracking, time-stamping of user location.

Chinese state media has branded Apple's iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone's ability to track and time-stamp user locations.

State broadcaster CCTV has aired a program criticising the iPhone's "Frequent Locations" function for allowing users to be tracked and information about them revealed.

"This is extremely sensitive data," said a researcher interviewed by the broadcaster. If the data were accessed, it could reveal an entire country's economic situation and "even state secrets," the researcher said.

Apple said in a statement sent to Reuters on Saturday that it was committed to protecting the privacy of its users, and that no unique information related to the user or the device was transmitted when using the location functions.

"We appreciate CCTV's effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important. We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don't do when it comes to privacy and your personal data.

Apple does not track users' locations – Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so."

- Apple statement

Apple has frequently come under fire from Chinese state media, which has previously accused the company of providing user data to US intelligence agencies and called for 'severe punishment'.

The company has also been criticised for offering poor customer service.

Apple's statement to Reuters claimed it has "never worked with any government agency from any country" to create a back door in any of its products or services.

"We have never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."

- Apple statement to Reuters.

The California-based company is not the only US firm to suffer from Chinese media ire.

Google services have been disrupted in China for over a month, while the central government procurement office has banned new government computers from using Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.

Other US hardware firms such as Cisco Systems and IBM have experienced a backlash in China from what analysts and companies have termed the 'Snowden Effect', referring to proof of US spying released last year by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

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