Apple’s iCloud services in mainland China will switch over to a server operated by a Chinese company starting next month.
Apple sent out a message to customers in China, revealing terms and conditions of the changeover. This includes the fact that both Apple and the Chinese firm, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry (GCBD), will now have access to all customer data stored on iCloud.
The decision to move the iCloud services was made to comply with China’s new cloud computing regulations, stating that cloud services in China must be operated by local companies. Apple also says that it will, “improve the speed and reliability of our iCloud services products.”
It affects only those accounts held by customers in China, and nowhere else in the world.
The transfer will take place on February 28. Those customers who don’t want to use GCBD-operated iCloud must terminate their accounts before that date. However, Apple reassures customers that it has, “strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems”.
Changes in China
Apple’s agreement to set up a new data center in China, in partnership with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry (GCDB), was announced last July. This was one month after China’s new tougher cybersecurity laws were introduced. Apple was the first foreign company to announce changes to its data storage in China in order to conform to the new law.
While Chinese authorities have said the laws aren’t intended as an attack on foreign companies, this is the latest example of Apple’s business practices having to change as it expands in China.
Previously, Apple has been forced to accept the Chinese government’s demands that it run network safety evaluations on all Apple products before they can be imported into the country. It has also seen its products booted off the list of approved state purchases in favor of Chinese-made products, and been forced to shut down its iBooks Store and iTunes Movies in the country — just six months after the services were first made available.
Most recently, Apple banned Skype and several other voice over internet protocol apps from the App Store in China because they do not comply with local law.