Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone was described as a threat to China’s national security in a recent broadcast made by the country’s government-run China Central Television. The CCTV report criticized the “Frequent Locations” service that is available in iOS 7 and noted that it could be used to surreptitiously track users and reveal “state secrets,” reports Reuters. The “Frequent Locations” service keeps track of an iPhone user’s most frequently visited geographic locations using GPS and other networks.
Although it is not clear why this particular iPhone feature is suddenly coming under scrutiny by China’s state media, it would not be the first time that CCTV has criticized Apple. Last year, Apple was fiercely criticized in a consumer rights show broadcast on CCTV. The “3.15” program accused Apple of giving Chinese consumers subpar post-sales customer service. As noted on CCTV’s website, Apple eventually apologized and made changes to its warranty policies for the Chinese market.
While the previous allegations made against Apple by CCTV concerned the Cupertino-based company’s treatment of its customers, the latest criticisms are about the possible use of Apple’s products as surveillance tools. Many U.S. tech companies have come under increased scrutiny by foreign governments following the exposure of the NSA’s electronic communications surveillance programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year.
Last November, Germany’s BSI, or Bonn Federal Office for Information Security, banned government officials from using iPhones, because the devices are incompatible with new encryption software that was adopted in response to the NSA spying programs revealed by Snowden, reports RT. Information leaked by Snowden revealed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s electronic communications may have been monitored by the NSA since 2002.