Apple has reportedly given Beijing access to the software used in its iPhones.
Aside from the obvious invasion of privacy the company has authorized with this action, there is a question of whether Apple has also now invited the Chinese government to indulge in further corporate hacking attempts within the United States.
The move was officially meant to allow the Chinese government to conduct “security inspections” allegedly intended to ensure the privacy of its citizens.
A report published in the Beijing News claimed that Apple CEO Tim Cook authorized the security checks, which reportedly were also to ensure that foreign governments could not use the iPhones within China for surveillance.
However, the Chinese government is also believed to have performed “man-in-the-middle attacks” on citizens using iCloud and similar tools, Pando.com reported.
Numerous nations have rushed to begin doing business with Beijing in the past several years, including the State of Israel. But as the world hurtles towards the mammoth Asian market that dangles in the East, the apparently forgotten difference in culture and mentality is a chasm equally wide.
“This would mark the first time Apple and China have conspired to compromise the security and privacy of people outside the country,” Nathaniel Mott wrote in his Jan. 23, 2015 article on the website. “But it’s not the first time people inside China have had to worry about Apple’s cozy relationship with the government.”
Mott has written previously about Apple and its iPhones in China, explaining that Beijing expects to receive any data it requests from companies with servers on its territory. Apple revealed in August 2014 that it stores customer data in China through a partnership with China Telecom, a state-owned wireless service provider, Mott wrote.
“Some fear Apple may have provided the source code to the operating system used in its iPhones and iPads. If that’s true, the security of those devices has been severely harmed,” he warned. “Percy Alpha, a member of the GreatFire censorship watchdog, told Quartz that it could allow China to discover vulnerabilities in Apple’s software that it could later exploit.”
Google has struggled with the Beijing government since 2006, when it first launched its search function in China, to maintain a semblance of autonomy for users.
At present the ruling Communist party at various times of the year forces internet users to fully identify themselves to service providers, and periodically blocks international versions of the search engine. Also blocked in China at those times are Picasa, Maps, Translate and Calendar.
“China currently uses every method of censorship in the book,” notes GreatFire, “from bandwidth throttling, keyword filtering and site blocking to the wholesale intimidation of the press.”
Business experts contend, however, that such tight censorship can only be maintained for so long, before the country’s economic needs outweigh its demand for control.Rachel Levy