China labels iPhone a security threat


China’s influential state broadcaster on Friday called a location-tracking function offered by Apple Inc.’s iPhone a “national security concern,” in the latest sign of a backlash in the country against U.S. technology firms.

In its national noon broadcast, state-run China Central Television criticized the “frequent locations” function in Apple’s iOS 7 mobile operating system, which records time and location for the owner’s movements. The report quoted researchers who said that those with access to that data could gain knowledge of China’s economic situation or “even state secrets.”

This sort of thing just puzzles me. For starters, Apple has been great about exposing this sort of preference, in this case via Settings > Privacy > Location Services (click here to learn the details). That fact that this feature is bottlenecked under a single setting means it’s trivial to disable.

I have no problem if the Chinese government wants to pass a law disabling this feature as a default, or even permanently. But doesn’t this sort of “security threat” bluster screams market protection and not a genuine concern for citizens’ privacy rights?