Apple is openly defying US demands for ‘backdoors,’ but in China Apple takes a very different approach

“Apple’s response to US and UK government demands for backdoors to user data has been direct, bordering on defiant,” Joon Ian Wong reports for Quartz. “Apple appears to take a different tack in dealing with data security demands from China, a key growth market for the company.”

“In January 2015, the state-run newspaper People’s Daily claimed, in a tweet, that Apple had agreed to security checks by the Chinese government. This followed a piece in the Beijing News that claimed Apple acceded to audits after a meeting between Cook and China’s top internet official, Lu Wei,” Wong reports. “China’s State Internet Information Office would reportedly be allowed to perform “security checks” on all Apple products sold on the mainland. According to the report, this was despite Cook’s assurances that the devices didn’t contain backdoors accessible by any government, including the US.”

“If Apple had indeed agreed to a Beijing security audit, it could have shared vital information with the Chinese government, such as its operating system’s source code, that could indirectly help government agents discover vulnerabilities on their own. It would have been a serious departure from Apple’s public, privacy-centric stance,” Wong reports. “When contacted today, an Apple spokesperson pointed Quartz to the company’s privacy policy, which states that the company has never worked with any government to create a backdoor to its products. ‘We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will,’ the policy reads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, but did Apple agreed to special security checks by Beijing or not? And, if so, what do they entail?

Apple’s privacy policy is here.

Apple agrees to subject products to Chinese government security inspections – January 22, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. This reminds me, when IBM sold their PC business to Lenovo, I decided then and there never to buy from them. Even then, the risk of China’s back door access was known.

    It’s a moot point these days, since I only use Mac, but I would not trust Lenovo for anything.

    An argument for Apple designing every circuit in-house.

  2. Apple may have simply allowed Chinese officials to review the source code on an Apple owned machine with the oversight of Apple engineers. The Chinese request to verify there are no back doors )for foreign governments) in products sold to its citizens or officials is pretty reasonable considering the context of the American government going to such great lengths to spy on our allies. Imagine the lengths the American government would go to spy on an adversary.

    1. …or Apple may have given China what it needs to secretly access iPhone data.
      It’s easy to stand up to the United States government.
      It’s another thing to stand up to a totalitarian government that rules the emerging market where you’re looking for growth.

    Cook posted an open letter on Apple’s website calling the demand “chilling” and arguing that it “would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

    Cotton seemed to disagree.

    “The problem of end-to-end encryption isn’t just a terrorism issue,” Cotton said in the statement. “It is also a drug-trafficking, kidnapping, and child-pornography issue that impacts every state of the union. It’s unfortunate that the great company Apple is becoming the company of choice for terrorists, drug dealers, and sexual predators of all sorts.”

    1. All these hypocrites have to do is ask one simple question.

      Would i be ok if apple unlocked a phone if my child’s life absolutely depended on it ?

      Unlocking, compromising passcodes… Is different from compromising active encription by the way.
      I unlock my phone through my pass code everyday… So does my wife if she needs too.

          1. OK. I’ll bite: Your scenario is stupid, because it is extremely unlikely. Second, society should avoid letting individuals destroy the safety of everyone else to theoretically help a single person in one particular instance. You’re essentially asking us to make world-wide policy that would hurt millions/billions to help one person. Think how dumb that would be. Under that logic, a person whose child is missing should be allowed to beat and torture everyone they happen to think might have been anywhere near their child when the child disappeared. I mean, sure they SAY they saw nothing, but they COULD be lying. So, torture away – you might get one of them to confess. Let’s say there were ten people in the area – torture them all, and maybe one of them was involved. Maybe no one was. Who cares? Your child is missing, so you should be able to destroy all of society.

            So, while we can assume that an individual whose child is missing might want to do all kinds of extreme things to find them, we’d be stupid to let that person decide policy for the rest of the world. So, your question is a waste of everyone’s time. Hopefully you’ll see that and stop being a pointless nuisance with irrelevant drivel on this topic.

  4. Apple takes a different stance because one deals with a totalitarian regime differently than one deals with a free democracy. Apple doesn’t yet realize the Constitutional rights we were all taught are simply more lies!

    1. Apple has to sell phones in china.. So the ideology can be compromised… Lol.
      Go ahead aand score me low…..
      Fact is there is a double standard on apples behalf.. And it all revolves around MONEY

  5. Who is to say that all the kurfuffle is all for “not.” Planted in each company is a spy, dropping code that opens a backdoor that gets signed and no one is the wise.

    The noise is so we think our data is safe.

  6. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the FBI have the iCloud password for this terrorist? What’s stopping them from just buying a new iPhone and restoring from the iCloud backup?
    Oh, that’s right, we’re talking about the government here. They think it needs to be an iPhone 5c which Apple doesn’t make anymore.

    1. What makes you think that the FBI has the iCloud password? A number of Apple engineers have been working with the FBI in order to find a way for them to access the phone. I’m pretty sure those engineers are smart enough to have thought of that, even if the FBI isn’t.
      Also, this was a work phone, not his personal phone. Maybe he didn’t back it up to iCloud.

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