Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

iPhones Threaten National Security, Says Chinese State Media

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

iPhones Threaten National Security, Says Chinese State Media

Article excerpt

A Chinese state-run broadcaster claims that the Apple iPhone is a threat to national security due to a feature on the smart phone called "Frequent Locations" that lets it keep track of places users have been.

The report was issued Friday by Chinese state media organization CCTV. A researcher interviewed in the broadcast said the data available through this feature is "extremely sensitive" and that, if accessed, could reveal important details about the country's economic situation, according to Reuters.

The "Frequent Locations" feature is available for users of the Apple iOS 7 mobile operating system. According to Apple's website, the data gathered by the feature is kept on the user's device and "won't be sent to Apple without your consent." However, the feature's default setting does let Apple see users' location in order to give them updates on places they may want to visit within their vicinity. Users can turn this setting off in their device's Privacy setting.

This accusation underscores issues privacy advocates have raised in the wake of revelations of US spying made last year by Edward Snowden. Specifically, it illustrates the power of meta data, or data about data, that Mr. Snowden revealed was being collected by the National Security Agency. Knowledge gathered from phones that shows an individual's location history, as well as the meta data tied to that type of information, could be a real threat to national security, says Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of New York University's Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program.

"The Chinese government is basically saying that [meta data] is a really powerful tool," Ms. Goitein says of the Chinese media organization's accusation. "To me, this is one more data point revealing that meta data can be highly revealing. …

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