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Apple Agrees To Chinese Government Security Audits, Worrying Activists

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Apple has agreed to allow the Chinese government run security audits on the new iPhone to prove that there is no back door access for the U.S. government. However, activists say that this agreement could have the opposite effect, allowing China to broaden spying on its own people.

"Handing over source code [would] mean that the Chinese government will know exactly how ... Apple software works," said Percy Alpha, the founder of the anti-censorship group GreatFire.org. "Apple users world-wide are much more vulnerable to spying from the Chinese government."

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For its part, Apple maintains that it does not cooperate with any government. "Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," the company claims. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

Indeed James Comey, the director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, recently complained that the government was worried that Apple's latest software update was too secure. "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law," Comey told reporters last September.

But despite Apple's assurances of privacy for its users, the question remains as whether it is a match for the Chinese government, which is believed to have one of the world's most sophisticated government systems for Internet censorship and surveillance, collectively known as the Great Firewall.

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CorpWatch: Non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. We work to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations.

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We believe the actions, decisions, and policies undertaken and pursued by private corporations have very real impact on public life Ś from individuals to communities around the world. Yet few mechanisms currently exist to hold them accountable for those actions. As a result, it falls to the public sphere to protect the public interest.

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