Cybersecurity: Apple Transfers Chinese iCloud Operation to a Local Government-backed Firm

Cybersecurity: Apple Transfers Chinese iCloud Operation to a Local Government-backed Firm
The Siliconreview
16 January, 2018

US technology giant Apple confirmed last week that iCloud services in mainland China will soon be operated by a Chinese company in a move to comply with the cybersecurity law enacted in June last year, ZDNet reported.

According to a Chinese news report quoting Apple, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Development (GCBD), owned by the Guizhou provincial government in southern China, will be responsible for iCloud operations in mainland China from February 28, 2018.

Apple has begun notifying its Chinese iCloud account users about the service migration from January 10. iCloud accounts registered outside of mainland China will not be affected, ZDNet reported.

This means that the physical location of Chinese iCloud customers’ data will change, but customers shouldn’t see any differences on their end of their iCloud accounts. In Apple’s message sent to mainland Chinese customers, the company says the new operations setup will “enable us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations.” Customers are urged to consider the new terms and conditions of iCloud operated by GCBD, and customers who are not comfortable with GCBD partnership can terminate their accounts.

Chinese customers may be concerned about the safety of their photos, documents, and other iCloud data because GCBD is owned by the Guizhou provincial government. Apple’s partnership with GCBD is another means for China’s government to control data accessible within its territory.

“Apple has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” the company said. The company was quoted on The Verge.

Apple will be one of the first US companies to comply with the Chinese law. Other US companies with business exposure in China, including Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, have also entered similar agreements with local data companies to maintain their operations in China.