(Reuters) – Chinese state media on Friday branded Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations.
A report by broadcaster CCTV criticized the iPhone’s “Frequent Locations” function for allowing users to be tracked and information about them revealed.
“This is extremely sensitive data,” said a researcher interviewed by the broadcaster. If the data were accessed, it could reveal an entire country’s economic situation and “even state secrets,” the researcher said.
Apple was not available for immediate comment.
Apple has frequently come under fire from Chinese state media, which accused the company of providing user data to U.S. intelligence agencies and have called for ‘severe punishment’. It has also been criticized for poor customer service.
The California-based company is not the only U.S. firm to suffer from Chinese media ire.
Google Inc (GOOGL.O) services have been disrupted in China for over a month, while the central government procurement office has banned new government computers from using Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Windows 8 operating system.
Other U.S. hardware firms such as Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) and IBM Corp (IBM.N) have experienced a backlash in China from what analysts and companies have termed the ‘Snowden Effect’, after U.S. spying revelations released last year by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.