Apple to Open Government Run Data Center in China Raising Privacy Concerns for iCloud

Apple Store in Chongqing, China
Apple Store in Chongqing, China

Apple has announced the opening a data center in mainland China which will have ties to the central government — raising concerns about the security of personal information stored iCloud accounts.

Apple’s China data center will be located in the Guizhou province and run by a Chinese owned company called Cloud Big Data. The decision by Apple to partner with a government-owned firm is the company’s efforts to comply with a new Chinese law requiring data-storage providers to house the information of mainland China customers within the country.

Even when traveling outside the country the data of Chinese users will be stored at the Guizhou data center. Apple said that backups and other data stored in iCloud accounts by customers outside China will continue to be stored in data centers in the U.S. and eventually in upcoming data center to be opened in Denmark.


 

With China already home to 20 percent of revenue, Apple’s third-largest market following North America and Europe must be handled with care if the brand wants to maintain a long-term presence there.

Apple is not alone in the move as Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, have made similar deals to run data centers in mainland China to comply with the new legal requirements.

For Apple however it goes against CEO Tim Cook’s previously strong commitment to protect customers’ privacy a cornerstone of the company.

Apple wants to reassure customers that while they are working with a Chinese government-owned firm, their data is no less safe.


 

“As our customers know, Apple has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” the company said in a statement.

It also added that it will maintain control of the security keys protecting data that people routinely backup on iCloud.

Experts, however, say that the data center will allow easier access for the government when it wants to retrieve user information. China is well-known for its repressive policing of the internet on the mainland.

 

 

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