Tim Cook wants Bloomberg to retract its spy chip story

Apple CEO Tim Cook

James Martin/Techhnews

Chinese spy chips didn’t infiltrate Apple’s technology, says CEO Tim Cook, and he wants Bloomberg to retract its story saying they did.

“There is no truth in their story about Apple,” Cook told BuzzFeed News on Friday. “They need to do that right thing and retract it.”

A report from Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this month said Chinese spy chips were allegedly used to gather intellectual property and trade secrets from the iPhone maker and Amazon Web Services, an Amazon subsidiary that provides cloud computing services. The chips were found in servers assembled by a Chinese company called Super Micro, according to the report, and could have been subject to a secret US government investigation that began in 2015.

Apple immediately denied the report and even told Congress that it was never hacked.

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On Friday, Cook again denied the allegations during the interview with BuzzFeed and said he wants Bloomberg to retract its story. Though there are often inaccurate rumors and other stories published about Apple, the company rarely asks for a retraction.

“I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell, who was then our general counsel,” Cook told BuzzFeed. “We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions. Each time they brought this up to us the story changed, and each time we investigated we found nothing.”

Bloomberg didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Prior to BuzzFeed’s report, the company has stood by its story.

Apple on Friday declined to comment beyond Cook’s remarks.

Apple, AWS, Super Micro and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs all disputed the report, which cited anonymous government and corporate sources.

The report came against a backdrop of growing concern over potential surveillance and security issues in Chinese-made equipment, worries that’ve hindered the country’s bid to become a global technology powerhouse. The Australian government, for instance, effectively blocked Chinese carriers in August from building the country’s 5G network. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump proposed a nationalized 5G network that would be free of the possibility of overseas interference.

The US Department of Homeland Security said it was aware of the reports of compromised supply chains in the technology industry. However, “at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story,” the department said in its statement.

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