Apple says it refused Chinese Requests for iOS source code

On Tuesday, Apple’s General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, sat down at another hearing over encryption entitled, “Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives,” where he admitted that China has requested source code from Apple on several occasions.


Sewell said the request had come in the last two years, and noted several times that Apple has not cooperated with China on that level. Some lawmakers have questioned whether or not Apple has given the country special treatment.

Sewell said the Chinese request had come in the last two years as he repeatedly sought to make the point that Apple had not given access to the iOS software code that runs the iPhone. Seeing the underlying code could allow government experts or hackers to develop new ways to crack through the device’s security protections and access users information.

“We have not provided source code to the Chinese government…I just want to be very clear on that,” Sewell emphasized.

Those reports grew in frequency during the height of the controversy between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, when Captain Charles Cohen, the commander of the Indiana State Police, said that Apple had given the Chinese government information in return for business advantages in the region.

One other interesting aspect is that Sewell said that he has requested private meetings with the FBI to talk about encryption, and had been asking for the meetings even before the San Bernardino controversy over encryption cropped up. Sewell said that he’s still open to those meetings now.

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