The US Justice Department has alleged that Apple is more cooperative with Chinese authorities than those on its home turf

Apple refused Chinese request to hand over source code

Apple has admitted that Chinese authorities have asked the company to hand over its source code for its operating systems in the last two years, but it refused the request.

A lawyer for Apple told US lawmakers about the request in response to criticism of its stance on technology security.

The testimony formed part of Apple’s response to the question of whether private technology companies should cooperate with governments, following heated disagreements between Apple and the FBI over unlocking encrypted data from an iPhone linked to last December's San Bernardino shootings.

Law enforcement officials have attempted to portray Apple as possibly complicit in handing over information to China's government for business reasons, while refusing to cooperate with US requests for access to private data in criminal cases.

"I want to be very clear on this," Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell told the hearing under oath. "We have not provided source code to the Chinese government."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, when asked about the comments, said she did "not understand" details of the situation and did not elaborate. China's Public Security Ministry also refused to comment on Apple’s statements.

Apple has previously denied the accusation as a ‘smear’ originating from the US Department of Justice's effort to force the technology company to help unlock the iPhone 5c used by the shooter.

The claim resurfaced in the hearing called by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee to examine potential common ground between law enforcement and the technology sector in the encryption debate, though more than three hours of testimony yielded little clear agreement.

Technology and security experts have said that if the US government was able to obtain Apple's source code with a conventional court order, other governments would demand equal rights to do the same thing.

Microsoft has also recently fallen into legal hot water around data security with its ongoing attempt to sue the US government to give it the right to inform its users if a federal agency is snooping on their emails.

Even the company’s founder Bill Gates has openly come out in support of the motion.

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