China OKs iPhone 6 sale after Apple addresses security concerns

Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:50am EDT
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By Paul Carsten

BEIJING (Reuters) - The iPhone 6 will be sold in China from Oct 17, after rigorous regulator scrutiny led to Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) reassuring the Chinese government that the smartphones did not have security "backdoors" through which U.S. agencies can access users' data.

Apple won approval to sell the phones after also addressing risks of personal information leaks related to the operating system's diagnostic tools, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on its website on Tuesday.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released on Sept 19 in the United States and elsewhere, but regulatory delay meant Chinese consumers had to wait. The initial lack of a China launch date caught analysts by surprise because of Apple's repeated comments about the importance of the world's biggest smartphone market.

Apple and other American technology companies have been subject to greater scrutiny in China after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year revealed spying and surveillance campaigns, including programs that obtained private data through U.S. technology firms.

In July, Chinese state media accused Apple of providing user data to U.S. agencies and called for 'severe punishment'. Apple responded by publicly denying the existence of backdoors.

The notice of approval for the iPhone 6 could potentially mark the ministry's first for a specific smartphone, suggesting Apple is subject to more scrutiny than its peers in a year in which the U.S. tech giant will release a new phone on all three of China's major mobile networks for the first time.

BACKDOORS   Continued...

A customer holds an iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus after the phones went on sale at the Fifth Avenue Apple store in Manhattan, New York September 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif