China made headlines the world over yesterday when its state media declared that Apple's beloved iPhone poses a threat to national security. With such a grand accusation, we knew that it wouldn't take long for Apple to speak up, and despite it being the weekend, the company issued a statement today.
The Cupertino company's statement appears only on the Chinese version of its website, although for those among us who can't read the nation's language, an English version is also provided.
At the forefront, the company says that user privacy is of utmost importance, and goes on to say that it always aims to be as clear and transparent with its customers as possible. While the company clearly understands that China's state media is trying to paint a bad picture of its iPhone, it's responded well. "We appreciate CCTV’s effort to help educate customers on a topic we think is very important. We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don’t do when it comes to privacy and your personal data."
The most important statement is this: "Apple does not track users’ locations – Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so."
While the company's mobile devices do have tracking capabilities, Apple's saying that it doesn't retain this information, or use it. Instead, the users themselves make use of this data, either for finding directions or to see what's in the area, like restaurants or shops. Apple's adamant about the fact that this data is effectively useless to it as a company - it's for consumer benefit only.
For those interested in exactly how Apple can triangulate your location, this latest statement covers all of that. Chances are good that you're already aware of these capabilities though, and the functionality of the phone in general. Reading through these statements, it becomes increasingly clear that China's state media simply doesn't want the iPhone in its country. As we covered yesterday, the tracking capabilities of the iPhone are shared by many other smartphones and mobile devices; it's not as though this is exclusive to Apple.
As commenter Super Dave pointed out in that post, it's actually pretty funny that Chinese state media is ousting a device that's built right there in its homeland. Something tells me Apple doesn't have too much to worry about.