Apple Hands Off China iCloud Data Operations


Apple on Wednesday announced that its mainland Chinese iCloud services will be operated by Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data (GCBD) which is owned by the Guizhou government in southern China. "Our cooperation with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data will improve the speed and reliability of our service, which is also in accordance with China's new Cyber Security Law", Apple told the Chinese newspaper. Apple's partnership with GCBD is another means for China's government to control data accessible within its territory. Last year, Chinese internet users became incensed when Apple removed many VPN apps from its App Store, citing a new rule that all VPN services had to be approved by the Chinese government.

Previously, Chinese customers' iCloud data have been stored in Apple's overseas data centers.

Guizhou is where Apple opened a $1bn (£738m) data centre past year to meet the regulations.

"There will be a series of customer communications over the course of the next seven weeks to make sure customers are well informed of the coming changes", it said.

The drastic approach would be to deactivate your iCloud account using a link Apple provides for the objective.

While that infrastructure project was drawn up to comply with China's Cybersecurity Law, it also showed how Apple and other major hi-tech companies have shown their support for Beijing's goal to turn the poor and mostly mountainous province into a world-class hi-tech location. Customers living in mainland China who did not want to use iCloud operated by GCBD were given the option to terminate their account.

However, Apple's decision has caused deep concerns among its customers in China about their data security, although Apple claimed that it has "strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems".

GCBD will formally take over Chinese iCloud operations next month. Articles stressed the growing supremacy of Chinese technologies, and news websites published articles telling users they might be forced to choose between Apple or Tencent. The company warned users that the terms and conditions of using iCloud in China will change, and has made it possible for them to delete their accounts instead of going through with the hand over.

As The Diplomat reported earlier, this is not Apple's first time cooperating with the Chinese government.