Ban party cadres from using iPhones, entrepreneur says in light of security risk

IT think tank founder urges Chinese government to stop relying on Apple products and to develop its own secure operating system instead

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 2:25pm

Government employees should be banned from using iPhones, a web entrepreneur has suggested in a Global Times commentary.

Fang Xingdong’s article, published in the state mouthpiece on Monday, came as US software giant Apple admitted that users’ personal data – including text messages, photos and contact lists – could be extracted from their iPhones through previously unpublicised methods.

Fang, founder of IT think tank, urged the Chinese government to stop overlooking the security risks of iPhones and to commission a third party to evaluate the severity of the problem and to come up with solutions.

Party cadres, government officials, military staff and those involved with the nation’s key infrastructure should be banned from using Apple products, said Fang, who is also director of Zhejiang University of Media and Communication’s internet and social studies centre.

He argued that Apple’s closed iOS operating system made it difficult for outsiders to evaluate its products for security risks.

Government employees could switch to using domestic mobile phones instead as they were built on the Android open-source operating system that allowed secondary development to improve security, he said.

Ultimately, Fang argued, China needs to build its own mobile operating system. The government should work out a development strategy with policies that favoured domestic companies, he added.

In January, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a Shanghai company jointly launched the China Operating System, touting it as having been independently developed and free of back doors and other security issues.

But many Chinese internet users quickly cast doubt on the originality of the operating system.