Vulnerabilities / Threats
9/28/2010
02:44 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Chinese iPhone 4 Forces Censored Maps

Apple's Maps application on the Chinese iPhone 4 will only show government-approved maps, unlike previous models.

Apple's iPhone 4 has been popular in China for months, despite the fact that it only officially went on sale there on September 25th. Enterprising individuals have been buying unlocked iPhones in the U.S. and shipping them back to China to be resold.

The official availability of the iPhone 4 is likely to limit such gray market sales, but there's still a reason for iPhone customers in China to buy an iPhone 4 from outside of the country: The iPhone 4 sold in China has been outfitted for censorship.

Stefan Geens, editor of geo-blog Ogle Earth, has posted an analysis of the Chinese iPhone 4 and found that its Maps application will only display the censored version of Google Maps approved by the Chinese government. Apple's Maps application, which comes with every iPhone and cannot be removed, relies on Google Maps.

"The built-in Maps app is crippled," he wrote in a blog post on Sunday. "My phone's base map is hard-wired to Google Maps' censored dataset for China, where the depiction of China's borders complies with the official propaganda of the Chinese government."

Google currently offers a Chinese-government-approved Google Maps (ditu.google.cn) for users in China and an uncensored version for users in Hong Kong (maps.google.com.hk).

With an iPhone 3GS, it would be possible to use the Maps application and see the maps presented to people in America or Europe. One could use a VPN and see the world the way the Chinese government does not want it to be seen. But the Chinese iPhone 4 appears to include localized software that prevents this, inside or outside of China.

There's another difference too: An iPhone 4 that was bought outside of China will serve Safari's Google search bar results based on the device's region format setting (under Settings > General > International). On the Chinese iPhone 4, the region format setting is ignored and all searches submitted through Safari's Google search bar send the user to a Google.cn landing page. The user can still click through to Google's uncensored server in Hong Kong but the extra step isn't the best possible user experience.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Google also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Chinese government requires that maps depict its view of the world. Companies that offer mapping services must receive government approval to operate in the country.

Earlier this month, China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping handed out its first Internet map licenses to 31 service providers. Google was not among them. Since March, Google has been reviewing the possibility of offering its map service in China while complying both with map censorship requirements and its pledge not to censor search results in China.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0972
Published: 2014-08-01
The kgsl graphics driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not properly prevent write access to IOMMU context registers, which allows local users to select a custom page table, and consequently write ...

CVE-2014-2627
Published: 2014-08-01
Unspecified vulnerability in HP NonStop NetBatch G06.14 through G06.32.01, H06 through H06.28, and J06 through J06.17.01 allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges for NetBatch job execution via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3009
Published: 2014-08-01
The GDS component in IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management - Collaborative Edition 10.0 through 11.0 and InfoSphere Master Data Management Server for Product Information Management 9.0 and 9.1 does not properly handle FRAME elements, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to conduct ph...

CVE-2014-3302
Published: 2014-08-01
user.php in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server 1.5(.1.131) and earlier does not properly implement the token timer for authenticated encryption, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a crafted URL, aka Bug ID CSCuj81708.

CVE-2014-3534
Published: 2014-08-01
arch/s390/kernel/ptrace.c in the Linux kernel before 3.15.8 on the s390 platform does not properly restrict address-space control operations in PTRACE_POKEUSR_AREA requests, which allows local users to obtain read and write access to kernel memory locations, and consequently gain privileges, via a c...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio