Using iCloud in China? Apple’s latest move, which has been criticized by tech and security experts alike, means you’d have to share your data with a Chinese state-run organization.
In an effort to comply with the new, stringent regulations which the Chinese Government has imposed on foreign organizations running in mainland China, Apple is now moving iCloud data uploaded by Chinese users to state-run Chinese servers alongside the digital keys required to unlock them.
Apple’s move means that if the Chinese Government wants to access Apple’s user data – something which they tried, and failed, to do in the past – all they have to do is to use the digital keys which the U.S. company has provided to them.
This move of Apple is in stark contrast to its previous responses to the Chinese Government in which it refused to share data of any of its users.
In the past, the Chinese authorities had to pass through a lengthy legal process as well as satisfy US user laws if they needed to access Apple’s user data.
The company on whose servers Apple is transferring the data of its users is the Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (CGBD). It is to be remembered that the company is owned by the provincial government of Guizhou province of China.
Apple Isn’t the only company sharing data
While Apple has been highly criticized for its move, it is not the only company which has to seemingly bend its rules to appease the stubborn Chinese Government.
Other notable companies who have partnered with Chinese organizations to store their cloud services in the Asian country include Amazon and Microsoft. The reason for this is that China has a huge consumer base – especially for Apple which also has its manufacturing base in the country.
Chinese Cybersecurity Law to blame
Apple was forced to make the move after a controversial cybersecurity law in China went into effect in June last year. Boiled down, this law requires all the foreign organizations doing business in mainland China to keep all the data of the Chinese users in the country.
As per Beijing, the law is an attempt by the Chinese Government to not only protect the privacy of Chinese citizens – but also prevent terrorism and control crime in the Asian country.
Still, the problem that has cybersecurity experts worried, remains. For, theoretically speaking, if Chinese Government wants to get a data of any of Apple’s users, Apple would be forced to turn it over to the state authorities.
While recent stats are hard to find, thanks in so small part to the blanket of restrictions which the Chinese Government has imposed on media, it was reported in 2016 that China had 110million active iPhone users.