The state-run China Central Television on Friday called the iPhone’s “Frequent Locations” feature a “national security concern” during its noon broadcast, claiming that the location-tracking function could allow for those with access to the data to gain knowledge of China’s “state secrets” and other sensitive information.
According to the Wall Street Journal, China has been backlashing against American technology companies since former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that alleged the National Security Agency was spying on Chinese leaders and receiving data from U.S. tech corporations.
WSJ shares the scoop:
“The broadcast 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 caused harm.”
Frequent Locations can be accessed through the Settings app, by taping on Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. The feature, toggled on by default, reveals a historic list of locations users frequent to “provide useful location-related information” on iPhone.
I can confirm that the feature does successfully track your location, listing the Canadian cities of Toronto and Oakville as two places that I frequent. It even displays a map of the areas that you visit, including an approximate time, data and address.
Apple has been pushing to have a bigger presence in the Chinese market, efforts led by executives such as CEO Tim Cook and newly-minted retail chief Angela Ahrendts. China’s mid-day broadcast could be viewed as a setback to those plans.