Apple reveals what user data is being stored on Russian servers

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iOS 11.3 Beta 1
Local data storage law came into effect in 2015.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has revealed which user data is being stored on Russian servers as part of its compliance with a local law which came into effect in Russia in 2015. The user data affects only Apple users in the region, and includes their name, delivery address, email, and phone number.

A filing by Apple makes no mention of other forms of personal data, such as iMessages, documents, or photos. In the event of Apple employees, Apple also stores information such as passport numbers, income information, and more.

The server that the data is stored on is operated by a company called IXcellerate.

The battle over local cloud storage

This isn’t the first time that Apple has been forced to comply with laws regarding user data being stored on non-Apple servers. This time last year, Apple carried out migration of China-based iCloud accounts to a server operated by a Chinese company. This was done to comply with new cloud computing regulations, stating that cloud services in China must be operated by local companies.

While Apple has proven willing to make these changes, however, it’s not been in favor of them. As part of the DigitalEurope industry group, Apple tried to push back on the proposed Russian law back in 2014. The group argued that data localization laws, “whether intended to prevent espionage or ensure data privacy and security, will not advance, and in many cases will hinder, the achievement of those objectives.”

Tim Cook has acknowledged that it cannot always fight these battles, though — although it does ensure that all data is encrypted by Apple. In an interview with Vice News last year, Cook said that:

“We have servers located in many different countries in the world. They are not easier to get data from being in one country versus the next. The key question is how does the encryption process work and who owns the keys if anyone? In most cases for us, you and the receiver own the keys.”

According to Bloomberg, Russian officials threatened to block Facebook entirely if it did not comply with the law. Google has also stored some local information in Russia. Apple’s filing can be read here.

Source: Bloomberg