China's state-run media broadcast today labeled Apple's location tracking services found iOS 7 and the iPhone a "national security concern", reportsThe Wall Street Journal. The broadcast cited researchers who said that those with access to the country's location data could gain "knowledge of the broader situation in China" and perhaps even state secrets.
The Chinese government said that it began developing these concerns about U.S. technology companies after the discovery of PRISM last year, which is a secret intelligence program ran by the NSA. In its broadcast, China's state run media said that Apple would need to "take on any legal responsibilities" if any data leaks harmed citizens.
Last year, a privacy lawsuit concerning Apple's location tracking services in iOS was dismissed by the US District Court of Northern California. The suit alleged that Apple was collecting location data in violation of its own privacy laws, however Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the plaintiffs had not provided sufficient evidence.
In the U.S., Apple has made a number of privacy-related moves in the past year, choosing to notify users of information requests from law enforcement and backing congressional bills to increase transparency in government surveillance.
The news also comes as Apple has made efforts towards improving its presence in China over the past few years, which include partnering with the country's biggest carrier China Mobile and opening new Apple Stores in populatedregions. CEO Tim Cook has also visited the country numerous times, meeting with government officials and China Mobile executives to discuss market growth. Apple also became China's fifth-largest smartphone vendor in Q4 2013, taking 7% of the total market share in the country.
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