Apple has refuted claims that the iPhone is a national security threat by publishing a new page that explains how the Cupertino company addresses “Your Location Privacy” in iOS. It comes days after Chinese state media network CCTV asserted Apple’s location tracking could reveal sensitive “state secrets.”
The page, which can be seen on Apple’s Chinese website, but is also available in English, describes how “Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers.” It directly acknowledges CCTV’s claims and insists that Apple works “tirelessly” to deliver the most secure hardware and software, and to be clear and transparent with customers.
Apple also takes a sly swipe at Google and other rivals by saying, “Unlike many companies, our business does not depend on collecting large amounts of personal data about our customers.” The letter’s main aim, however, is to make it clear to customers in China how it handles privacy and personal data — particularly with regards to location.
Apple explains that the iPhone uses a combination of GPS, cell tower location data, and pre-stored WLAN hotspot information to calculate a device’s location in just a few seconds. It also details a number of ways in which location data is used by the iPhone, like providing commute information in the Today view in Notification Center, and to show automatic routing in CarPlay.
The notice concludes that this location data is encrypted and only ever used by the iPhone locally, and is never backed up by iTunes or iCloud. “Apple does not track users’ locations – Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so,” the company reiterates.