Apple denies Chinese government tracks iPhone location data

Apple has released a statement to assure iPhone users the Chinese government can't track their data using the iPhone's location settings.

Last week, China's state-owned TV broadcaster China Central Television said the government could find out an individual's identity from data intercepted from iPhones.

The TV service quoted Ma Ding, head of the online security institute at People's Public Security University of China, saying governments could use the Frequent Locations feature, usually used to boost GPS signals in apps such as Maps and Weather, to find out the user's identity and track their movements.

The report said the data could reveal the country's economic situation and even state secrets. However, Apple argued the data in question is only stored on a user's phone, not on a server that could be hacked. The data is also heavily encrypted meaning even if someone was able to access the data, it would be very hard for them to understand it.

Apple released the statement on its Chinese website saying it takes privacy very seriously: "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."

The statement continued: "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."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.