Apple May Allow Product Security Inspections by Chinese Government Officials

Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly consented to security inspections of the company's products by Chinese government officials, reports The Beijing News [Via ITworld]. The inspections will look for backdoors that provide third-party access to sensitive and private data stored on Apple devices.

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These spot inspections were part of an agreement forged between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Lu Wei, director of China's State Internet Information Office. The pair met last year to talk about the security of Apple's products, including the upcoming Apple Watch. Wei expressed concerned that Apple's devices may compromise the security of the Chinese government and the privacy of Apple device owners in China.

During their conversation, Cook reportedly told Lu that Apple's devices do not contain a backdoor to share data with government entities or other third-party services. Despite these assurances, Wu supposedly insisted on these security assessments so the Chinese government can examine Apple's products firsthand.

China increasingly is an important market for Apple with sales in the Asian nation projected to continue to rise in the coming years. Apple recently confirmed plans to open five new retail locations in China over the next five weeks. The company has been heavily promoting these grand openings, making retail head Angela Ahrendts available for interview by Chinese media sources and hiring renowned calligrapher Wang Dongling to design a mural for the upcoming West Lake store in Hangzhou.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: China

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Top Rated Comments

Ledgem Avatar
124 months ago
I don't understand what China is getting here. Closer inspection? Why not just pick up a phone at the store and play with it all you want (like they have not already done that...)? Why not just go to the factories and do a "safety" inspection?
They want to make sure that there are no backdoors. That means examining things like hardware design and software code. It's invasive and, given China's lax regard for copyright, risky for Apple.

The saddest thing about this is that, as an American, I'd find it kind of reassuring if China were to conduct its audits and decide that Apple's products were safe to use. I don't have "anything to hide," nor am I worried about the government spying specifically on me, but I think that some massive overreach has occurred and continues to occur.

Who would have thought that I, as a citizen of the self-proclaimed freest country on earth, would want to find verifications of privacy and freedoms on my electronics through the audit by a repressive foreign government? This is a pretty sad state of affairs.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vito Avatar
124 months ago
next we'll hear about China wanting to add a backdoor for "security reasons"
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
brendu Avatar
124 months ago
Come on guys. After all the NSA leaks I think it's completely fair for another country to want to ensure that they aren't being spied on this way. Just as we want to be sure Chinese technology isn't being used to spy on us. If I was Chinese I would expect my government to do these kinds of checks. Good on apple for allowing it to backup their stance that they don't allow their products to be used for spying.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JHankwitz Avatar
124 months ago
Ha! No doubt China wants a close look and details so they can figure out how they can break into our devices.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
marioguarneros Avatar
124 months ago


China increasingly is an important market for Apple with sales in the Asian nation projected to continue to rise in the coming years. Apple recently confirmed plans to open five new retail locations in China over the next five weeks.

English is not my first language so please ignore me if I am mistaken but wouldn't it be better to write it as follows?:

"China is an increasingly important market…"
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457282 Avatar
124 months ago
I don't understand what China is getting here. Closer inspection? Why not just pick up a phone at the store and play with it all you want (like they have not already done that...)? Why not just go to the factories and do a "safety" inspection?

Unless I am missing something, this seems to be nothing more than a political move to show that China is in charge and that Apple cannot just do whatever they want. Otherwise, I am not seeing anything that China actually gets by this demand.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)