China Bans iPhone Use For Government Work

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China’s government has banned officials at central government agencies from bringing foreign-branded phones, including the iPhone, into offices or using them for government work. According to reports, China seeks to “cut the country’s reliance on foreign technology” and beef up cybersecurity; as well as keep sensitive data from leaking to foreign governments. Reports also emerged that military and government personnel were barred from using Tesla vehicles, and Tesla later announced it would begin storing Chinese car data locally.

While the move broadly targets foreign-made smartphones, Apple stands out, as China remains one of its biggest markets. The country also continues to be a huge part of its supply chain, even as it transfers manufacturing to countries like India.

With China as such a big part of its bottom line, accounting for around 19% of its overall revenue, Apple has made changes to its iOS software in the past to appease the country, such as limiting AirDrop’s time window to 10 minutes or removing the Taiwanese flag emoji. Apple CEO Tim Cook also made a high profile visit to the country in March.

The iPhone ban for government officials may be retaliation for similar moves made by the United States against Chinese tech and could have a chilling effect on Apple and other large foreign brands with an established China presence. China’s Huawei and ZTE have long been scountred to US restrictions. And in November 2022, the Biden administration banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from both companies because they pose “an unacceptable risk” to US national security.

TikTok has also been banned from devices issued by multiple US institutions; including the House of Representatives, the City of New York, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Georgia; over concerns that the Chinese government could have access to users’ data through its Chinese parent company, Bytedance.

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