The WSJ reports that the state-run China Central TV has described the iPhone as a “national security concern” due to its location-tracking capabilities.

In its national noon broadcast, state-run China Central Television criticized the “frequent locations” function in Apple’s iOS 7 mobile operating system, which tracks and records the time and location of the owner’s movements. The report quoted researchers who said that those with access to that data could gain knowledge of the broader situation in China or “even state secrets” …

While CCTV may be ostensibly attacking Apple, its real target is the US Government. China has been increasingly hostile towards the U.S. since Edward Snowden claimed last year that the NSA was spying on Chinese leaders and suggested that U.S. tech firms were assisting these efforts by allowing access to their data.

The broadcast on Friday cited the Snowden disclosures and called U.S. technology firms’ databases a “gold mine.” It also quoted officials who said that China needed stronger data protection laws, and that Apple would need to “take on any legal responsibilities” if any data leaks cause harm.

Apple and other tech companies last year denied that they allowed the NSA access to their servers, though security researchers noted that the wording of those denials appeared to allow for the possibility of indirect access.

It had also been suggested that the NSA had complete access to early iPhones, including both microphone and camera, and that exploit used may have been with Apple’s cooperation – a claim refuted by Tim Cook.

While the claim that location tracking is a threat to national security may be silly, that doesn’t mean that Apple won’t be forced to respond in some way. Tim Cook last year apologized to Chinese customers over warranty issues raised by Chinese state media despite there being no apparent substance to the claims.

Photo credit: Reuters

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