Apple caves to Kremlin pressure to store iCloud data in Russia

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Apple in Russia
A new Russian law means President Vladimr Putin could take a peek at the iCloud data of his citizens.
Photo: Caviar

Apple will comply with a Russian law that could force them to decrypt data on Russian customers at the government’s request.

The law took effect last year and requires the tech giant to store data on servers in Russia for up to six months. Apple acquiesced to a similar law last year in China, a smartphone market in which it has invested heavily.

News of Apple registering with the Russian government on Dec. 25 to agree it would comply with the law was confirmed by Russian telecommunications agency Roskomnadzor and reported on the Apple news site, Apple Insider.

This will no doubt open Apple up to criticism from data privacy groups, who believe the government could use the information to target dissident activists and political opponents.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is a vocal supporter of strict data privacy and Apple uses security as a selling point for its products.

The week’s news has dinged Apple’s privacy protective powers with several stories suggesting its operating systems are not impenetrable.

Cook had to apologize after a software bug that made eavesdropping possible on group FaceTime. Facebook and Google were found to be violating Apple’s developer privileges and privacy codes with sideloaded research apps that rewarded participants for usage information.

Reuters also broke a story about intelligence contractors working for the United Arab Emirates using malware to take advantage of a security flaw in iMessage to skim personal information on targets in neighboring countries.

Now Apple is caving to the Russian government at a time when U.S. and Moscow have renewed a familiar Cold War chill.

Human Rights groups fear Russian president Vladimir Putin will use iCloud data to target his opponents, some of whom were allegedly murdered by his order.

Source: Apple Insider