Apple Transfers Chinese Users' iCloud Data to State-Run Servers in China

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Today marks the official transfer of Apple's Chinese iCloud services from a hosting location in the United States to servers owned and operated by state-run Chinese company Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) (via CNN). With the move, all Chinese users' iCloud accounts will now be hosted on GCBD's servers, along with the iCloud encryption keys needed to unlock an iCloud account.

Apple made the transfer to comply with the latest laws enacted in China regarding regulations on cloud services, requiring foreign firms to store data within the country. At the time of the original announcement, Apple said, "While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful."


Still, Apple remains adamant about its users' privacy:
"Apple has not created nor were we requested to create any backdoors and Apple will continue to retain control over the encryption keys to iCloud data," the Apple spokesman said.

"As with other countries, we will respond to legal requests for data that we have in our possession for individual users, never bulk data," he added.
The company decided to obey the new law in China, instead of outright discontinuing iCloud services in the country and causing a "bad user experience and less data security and privacy" for its Chinese customers. Now, starting today, any iCloud accounts on a device with location settings set to China will have their accounts switched to host GCBD, which is owned by the Guizhou provincial government in southern China.

Because of the move, the Chinese government will be able use its own legal system to ask Apple for its users' iCloud data, whereas before the government had to go through the U.S. legal system. This has been the focus of controversy regarding the move, with human rights and digital security advocates questioning whether Apple will be able to maintain and protect its customers' privacy under the new Chinese laws.
"The changes being made to iCloud are the latest indication that China's repressive legal environment is making it difficult for Apple to uphold its commitments to user privacy and security," Amnesty International warned in a statement Tuesday.
Speaking to CNN, Ronald Deibert, an expert on human rights and global digital security from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, said that Apple customers in China will need to take "extra and possibly inconvenient precautions not to store sensitive data on Apple's iCloud." Apple has noted that users can terminate their iCloud account if they don't want their data stored by GCBD, but a company spokesperson said that "more than 99.9 percent" of iCloud users in China have decided to continue using the service.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple Transfers Chinese Users' iCloud Data to State-Run Servers in China
 

Beeplance

macrumors 68000
Jul 29, 2012
1,560
485
Singapore
Apple: We will always value users' privacy.

Also Apple: goes ahead and stores iCloud data in a data center in China, owned by a company with close links to the Chinese government because they want to suck up to Beijing authorities.
 

Shirasaki

macrumors G4
May 16, 2015
10,010
3,891
I’ve got all of my apps Downlaoded, whether I want or not. From this point onward, no more Chinese App Store no matter what. If I happen to be unable to use certain app, so be it.
 
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Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
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Silicon Valley, CA
How does Apple deal with the data of non-citizens who just happen to be visiting or living long term in China? Will their data get sucked into the Chinese data center as well?
Likely the same as any other visitor: when you are in that country you are subject to that country’s laws.
 

alex2792

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2009
805
2,232
Apple: We will always value users' privacy.

Also Apple: goes ahead and stores iCloud data in a data center in China, owned by a company with close links to the Chinese government because they want to suck up to Beijing authorities.
Well, the alternative is not offering iCloud to the Chinese market. Companies have to abide by local laws, when in Rome do as the Romans.
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,345
13,702
In between a rock and a hard place
How does Apple deal with the data of non-citizens who just happen to be visiting or living long term in China? Will their data get sucked into the Chinese data center as well?
Afaik the data going to the Chinese data center is determined by the region of your Apple ID. If your Apple ID region is set to China, your data goes there. If it's not, it doesn't. I have a couple of friends who have family in China and they've all set their region to Hong Kong. HK isn't subject to the data storage laws of mainland China.
 

JRobinsonJr

macrumors 6502a
Aug 20, 2015
645
1,140
Arlington, Texas
Well... this doesn't seem unreasonable. If Apple was a China-based company we (US) wouldn't want them storing our data in China where it could be monitored. We're assuming that this was a requirement to eliminate data the China state couldn't access, and that may very well be true, but the larger fact is that China is NOT a democracy (or a Republic) and their citizens and visitors are subject to a totally different set of laws. Any company wanting to do business in China must follow their laws. Period. Apple doesn't have to agree with them, but does have to abide by them.
 

iMerik

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2011
592
410
Upper Midwest
I’ve got all of my apps Downlaoded, whether I want or not. From this point onward, no more Chinese App Store no matter what. If I happen to be unable to use certain app, so be it.
Can you explain this more. Do you have an Apple ID with a region associated with China? Do you use a VPN of some kind to help you avoid Chinese oversight?
 

Shirasaki

macrumors G4
May 16, 2015
10,010
3,891
Can you explain this more. Do you have an Apple ID with a region associated with China? Do you use a VPN of some kind to help you avoid Chinese oversight?
I live in Australia and have long switched my account away from china. VPN is not that necessary in here so not my main concern. I used to register my Apple ID in China. But I have my region set to Australia.

I don’t know how Apple will treat my Apple ID data as they are unwilling to disclose such information (tried but failed). I must assume they store some of my data in China as it is entirely possible for them to store something in China no matter what.
 
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JosephAW

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2012
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"Apple has noted that users can terminate their iCloud account if they don't want their data stored by GCBD, but a company spokesperson said that "more than 99.9 percent" of iCloud users in China have decided to continue using the service."

For now... when the Chinese govmnt tells Apple that the iCloud switch must be on for all citizens then users won't be able to opt out.
 
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