Apple's Chinese iCloud Data Moved to Servers Managed by State-Owned Mobile Operator

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Apple's Chinese iCloud operator has agreed a deal with state-owned China Telecom to transfer local customer data to the company's Tianyi cloud storage business, according to TechCrunch.

China Telecom reportedly announced the agreement in a WeChat post, saying that local Apple partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) had migrated all Chinese iCloud customer data to Tianyi servers. Apple separately confirmed the change to TechCrunch.


Back in January, Apple controversially announced that its iCloud services in mainland China would be overseen by GCBD, which was already known to have ties to the Chinese government. GCBD was brought on board to manage Apple's new $1 billion data center, which opened in the region last year.

Customer data stored on iCloud includes emails, text messages, and the encryption keys that protect it. Customers who did not want to use iCloud operated by GCBD were given the option to terminate their account or select a country other than China for their 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. The move means Chinese government can 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.

Today's development is unlikely to quell the concerns of human rights and privacy advocates, who criticized Apple's original decision to rely on GCBD and questioned whether it will be able to maintain and protect its customers' privacy under the new Chinese laws.

At the time, Apple said, "While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful." Nevertheless, Apple assured customers that no backdoors had been created into any of its systems, and that it retained control of the encryption keys. Whether the new GCBD-Telecom arrangement impinges on Apple's original assurances remains to be seen.

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's Chinese iCloud Data Moved to Servers Managed by State-Owned Mobile Operator
 

w.z.906

macrumors newbie
Jul 18, 2018
0
2
Well, I think 'local Apple partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD)' is more state-controlled. China Telecom is a public trading company.

This is Guizhou-Cloud Big Data: https://english.gzdata.com.cn/c101/index.html
It claimed that this company is 'is sponsored by Guizhou Big Data Development Administration and supervised by the Board of Supervisors of Guizhou State-owned enterprises.'

So, put it simply. This a company completely controlled by the Guizhou Province Government.

But China Telecom, you can trade its stock in both Hong Kong and US:
https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/cha?ltr=1
 
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w.z.906

macrumors newbie
Jul 18, 2018
0
2
What does this mean for people outside China? Does China have access to US / European customers data? What if we travel to China - does our data get much mixed up with the Chinese servers?
I believe only iCloud account registered with choice of region as China will have its data stored there. Before the Chinese Gov force Apple to store the data in GCBD, Apple sent out emails to such iCloud accounts. They can turn off iCloud data, so no information will be moved to GCBD. Or they can accept it, either trusting the Chinese Gov or trusting Apple's encrypting technology is good enough. They can also change the region to other country, as long as they can provide a credit card (or other payment) issued in that country, but bear the relatively slow access for their data because the server is not in China.

So if you travel to China, don't worry.
 

TimmeyCook

Suspended
Jun 20, 2018
460
1,224
What does this mean for people outside China? Does China have access to US / European customers data? What if we travel to China - does our data get much mixed up with the Chinese servers?
No.

But, of course, on all other media outlets will make simplified clickbait headlines where the people will get that their data is directly sent to the communist party.

Journalism these days.
[doublepost=1531909457][/doublepost]
This seriously undercuts Apple’s stated commitment to privacy and data protection. They’re basically admitting “We’re committed to privacy until there’s too much money at stake.”
When the only other option is getting kicked out of the country, making zero money and zero difference.
[doublepost=1531909525][/doublepost]
Watching Apple's pathetic pandering to China over the last couple of years has been fascinating and a little sad to watch.
Yeah, Apple is going to overthrow a regime. Just like google, Microsoft and Amazon are doing right now...
 

Marekul

macrumors 6502
Jan 2, 2018
348
565
What does this mean for people outside China? Does China have access to US / European customers data? What if we travel to China - does our data get much mixed up with the Chinese servers?
No this is only for Chinese user data. Maybe also if you visit China don’t have any suspicious political stuff on your phone. Could be that they see your data. Or if you have Chinese friends... Who knows....

So as log as you have nothing to hide, any corporate secrets to protect, you have nothing to fear.
Seriously though, I think the backdoor for Chinese government to this extremely large subset of user data severely compromises iCloud security. And the virtue signaling by Tim Cook saying privacy is a fundamental right in sight of this is just pure hypocrisy.
 

atropos

macrumors regular
Jul 26, 2003
113
80
Ottawa, ON; Alhambra, CA
What does this mean for people outside China? Does China have access to US / European customers data? What if we travel to China - does our data get much mixed up with the Chinese servers?
IMO, Chinese might able to make a fake key to steal other iCloud DB’s data... as long as they are having same or similar settings.
[doublepost=1531914011][/doublepost]
No this is only for Chinese user data. Maybe also if you visit China don’t have any suspicious political stuff on your phone. Could be that they see your data. Or if you have Chinese friends... Who knows....

So as log as you have nothing to hide, any corporate secrets to protect, you have nothing to fear.
Seriously though, I think the backdoor for Chinese government to this extremely large subset of user data severely compromises iCloud security. And the virtue signaling by Tim Cook saying privacy is a fundamental right in sight of this is just pure hypocrisy.
What about I support freedom of speech and understand China is worst human right country in the world, they can scan and lock you up if you are a Chinese(even if US citizenship) that is a big risk of privacy which Tim Cook keep saying he stand for(laugh my ass off)
[doublepost=1531914169][/doublepost]
Yeah, Apple is going to overthrow a regime. Just like google, Microsoft and Amazon are doing right now...
I doubt Tim Cook will... never, I m surprised he keep against Trump and support diversity, immigrates... but just ass up when he faces to China... lol
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
Well, I think 'local Apple partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD)' is more state-controlled. China Telecom is a public trading company.

This is Guizhou-Cloud Big Data: https://english.gzdata.com.cn/c101/index.html
It claimed that this company is 'is sponsored by Guizhou Big Data Development Administration and supervised by the Board of Supervisors of Guizhou State-owned enterprises.'

So, put it simply. This a company completely controlled by the Guizhou Province Government.

But China Telecom, you can trade its stock in both Hong Kong and US:
https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/cha?ltr=1
I'm not sure why you're referencing China Telecom being a publicly traded company. That has nothing to do with anything. Government controlled is government controlled.
 

w.z.906

macrumors newbie
Jul 18, 2018
0
2
I'm not sure why you're referencing China Telecom being a publicly traded company. That has nothing to do with anything. Government controlled is government controlled.
China Telecom is a state-controlled company, which I never denied.
But compared to GCBD, China Telecom is more transparent because under the requirement of NYSE, the company has to disclose may more things.

BTW, People in this thread is freaking out like it's news.

No, it's not. Before the Chinese Gov forced Apple to move data to GCBD, Apple already used China Telecom's server to store data, under the pressure of Chinese Gov.

What Apple did today is just moved back.
[doublepost=1531916809][/doublepost]
Isn't privacy a fundamental human right?
[doublepost=1531916535][/doublepost]

It's a communist government, the government owns it still.
Right. Exactly. I believe you can send a protest letter to NYSE asking why they allow a communist-controlled state company posts its stock in US.
 
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Zxxv

macrumors 68040
Nov 13, 2011
3,558
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UK
Doesn’t matter one bit. iCloud, iCloud backups, iMessages etc are all encrypted anyways.

/s
 

TimmeyCook

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Jun 20, 2018
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I doubt Tim Cook will... never, I m surprised he keep against Trump and support diversity, immigrates... but just ass up when he faces to China... lol
What you are talking?

Do you think that China is like the US where anyone can disagree with the president and even run for president and actually win against career politicians?

No, friggin no! Not even the United States military with all its might could overthrow the Chinese Communist regime, much less tiny companies. China doesn't even an army, the army serves the Communist party and not the people. That's that deep.
 

mysticbluebmw

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2009
229
5
I don't think anyone wants to read my texts to my wife or kids or listen in on my boring phone calls. I guess if you've got something to hide, look at donkey porn, or are up to no good, this matters, otherwise, meh...
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,153
13,235
In between a rock and a hard place
China Telecom is a state-controlled company, which I never denied.
But compared to GCBD, China Telecom is more transparent because under the requirement of NYSE, the company has to disclose may more things.

BTW, People in this thread is freaking out like it's news.

No, it's not. Before the Chinese Gov forced Apple to move data to GCBD, Apple already used China Telecom's server to store data, under the pressure of Chinese Gov.

What Apple did today is just moved back.
You're conflating business transparency with customer data transparency. Those are two very different things. CT being publicly traded doesn't mean they have to be more forthcoming than GCBD regarding iCloud data.

People freaking out in this thread is typical of any thread. Someone is always going to be hysterical. It's the nature of forums. Everyone has their own opinions and their own reactions to them. I don't care. Let 'em freak out.
 
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nnoble

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2011
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Quick question: is that picture in the article the real iCloud login page or is it just a mock-up ?
The Chinese login page uses Chinese Characters, as you would expect.

As for the hysteria generated above by others, for the overwhelming majority of Chinese iCloud users, this news would barely be worth glancing at. The social pact with the Party is understood, even by those who resent it. For the rest of the world, they should be more concerned with agencies in the USA than in China.
 
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JRobinsonJr

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Aug 20, 2015
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Arlington, Texas
This seriously undercuts Apple’s stated commitment to privacy and data protection. They’re basically admitting “We’re committed to privacy until there’s too much money at stake.”
No, they are committed to privacy within legally available constraints. China is free to make law. Companies are free to follow that law... or not do business. Is this really about revenue? Of course! Thats what companies - particularly publicly traded ones - do. They generate revenue. That said, what exacly is a viable alternative for Apple? Dont sell products and services in one of the largest global markets? That would be nuts. Plus, how would thta benefit Chinese users? It wouldn’t.
 

ginkobiloba

macrumors 6502a
Jul 2, 2007
516
1,204
Paris
Some people are commenting as if Apple ( or any other company ) can dictate its will to the Chinese government. Apple isn't a government, it's a company, and as such it is required to comply with the laws of the country they're operating in, even if they disagree with them.

Apple, like all other companies, were given the choice to either accept the terms or stop operating and selling in China ( what's the use of an iPhone without syncing services ? )

Did you really expect Apple to just stop selling in China, while it's competitors still do ? How incredibly naive !
 
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Kaibelf

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This seriously undercuts Apple’s stated commitment to privacy and data protection. They’re basically admitting “We’re committed to privacy until there’s too much money at stake.”
What are you talking about? This is specific to Chinese users and Chinese law. Despite America’s best efforts they don’t dictate to the world how everyone must live. That is up to the citizens of China. The alternative is more war driven nonsense like the “open arms of democracy” we delivered to the Middle East.