It’s not every day that rivals find themselves in troublesome situations in the same location, but Samsung and Apple managed to do just that in China last week.
While Samsung was put on notice about human rights violations involving underage workers in one of its China-based factories, Apple was put on the offensive when China Central Television aired a segment about an iOS 7’s feature being deemed a security risk.
The feature in question is “Frequent Locations” which assists users in daily travel by recording and keeping track of frequently visited locations. The feature offers information such as the fastest route and directions to a location.
In the segment, CCTV stated that “Frequent Locations” could record information even when turned off. CCTV also said that the information could be used to gather the owner’s home and work address, their occupation and even government secrets. Basically, the news agency believes that “Frequent Locations” could be a stalker’s—or a spy’s—best friend and most useful tool.
As expected, Apple issued a response to slam the lid on the assertions made by China Central Television. The Cupertino-based company stated that they’ve never worked with a government entity to make a backdoor in their products and services to siphon personal information through. “We have also never allowed access to our servers,” Apple said. “And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about.”
The concerns that CCTV bring up are valid. Even if Apple didn’t actively give ne’er-do-wells the keys to everyone’s castles, in skilled hands, an iPhone—or any smartphone and device—could basically give you a person’s life. The methods range from simply leaving the phone laying around or misplacing it to a hacker going to town—or in the case of the “Find My iPhone” ransom hackers: a combination of both extremes of the scale.
After last summer’s Snowden leaks no amount of “We didn’t do it guys!” from companies will calm customers. The large tech companies know this, but attempting to smooth things over is making use of a general understanding of customer relations as well as base crowd control.
As other press outlets have mentioned, this move by Apple is simply instinct. When China counts for roughly 20% of your company’s global sales and you have a new iPhone with features that market wants, crowd control is your main tactic when something like this pops up.