Apple: Chinese firm to operate China iCloud accounts

EnlargeAndrew Cunningham

EnlargeAndrew Cunningham

The U.S. tech giant said as of February 28 all iCloud data services for users with Chinese mainland accounts will be managed by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) and all of their data will be stored domestically in China.

Apple has made the move to comply with Chinese government policy, that demands domestic operators own foreign services' data centres so that data on Chinese citizens is stored within the country.

Guizhou is where Apple opened a $1bn (£738m) data centre previous year to meet the regulations. As we noted at the time, regulations introduced in June 2016 also prevent transfer of sensitive economic, scientific or technological overseas.

Apple started informing its Chinese iCloud users from Wednesday, with data transferred and uploaded to the new database automatically. An executive of GCBD told Xinhua that "we are very proud and happy to be a partner of Apple, and look forward to the operation of the iCloud project".

Only users who agree to the new terms will have their data stored on the mainland.

Business analysts said the move will help Apple comply with Chinese law concerning customer data and allay some customers' concerns about the security of their data, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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"Have you often experienced slow access speed and freezes when you sync your iPhone photos, videos, documents and apps to iCloud?" it wrote on its official Weibo account.

Nevertheless, some remain concerned that moving the operations locally will potentially make it easier for the government to eavesdrop on Apple users in the country. Apple has now confirmed that the switchover will take place in February.

Apple announced the new data base in Guizhou last July, with an investment of 1 billion USA dollars.

In August 2017, Apple were heavily criticised by Beijing for threatening to remove applications by leading Chinese tech company Tencent, including the WhatsApp-like mobile messenger WeChat.

Social media users threw their support behind Tencent, saying they could not give up WeChat, which has more than a billion registered users.

The move comes after the company was criticised by some past year for removing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) from its App Store in mainland China - software that allowed users to get round government restrictions on internet access. He added the firm had to comply with Chinese regulations requiring licenses for VPN sellers.

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