iPhone 11 ProSource: Joseph Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • A recent report claims that Apple has ceded control of user data to the government in China.
  • The New York Times claims that Apple can't stop the government from accessing information like emails and contacts, but Apple has said this isn't true.
  • The Chinese government has now also refuted the statement through state media.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has hit back through state media at claims that Apple has given over control of user data in China to the government.

A new report from Global Times, part of the People's Daily group in China, cites remarks made by China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who said that whilst he was not aware of the specific situation regarding Apple and China, claimed that "Respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and abiding by China's laws and regulations are the basic principles and obligations of all foreign companies operating in China." On data, Zhao stated, "the Chinese government strictly adheres to principles of data security protection and prohibits and cracks down on relevant illegal activities in accordance with the law."

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Zhao also claimed "the US should stop the plot of a thief crying 'stop thief' to smear China".

Earlier this week The New York Times reported that Apple had compromised user privacy in China, from that report:

When Apple moved Chinese user data to local servers, the company promised that the data would be safe and managed with Apple's strict approach to privacy. Today's report says that Apple has "largely ceded control to the Chinese government."

And in its data centers, Apple's compromises have made it nearly impossible for the company to stop the Chinese government from gaining access to the emails, photos, documents, contacts, and locations of millions of Chinese residents, according to the security experts and Apple engineers.

Apple refuted the claims stating it still holds control of the keys that protects user data in China, and that it isolates its data centers in China from the rest of the iCloud network. It also stated that Apple uses much more advanced encryption in China compared to other countries in which it operates.