Apple has revealed when it will hand over the operation of its iCloud data center in China in a bid to comply with local law.
In an e-mail to affected customers on Wednesday, Apple said that it will hand over Chinese iCloud data center operations to Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data (GCBD) on February 28. The move will ensure iCloud data owned by Chinese users will remain inside the country’s borders. But Apple was quick to note in the e-mail, which was obtained by 9to5Mac, that it will maintain the same security and encryption protocols and will not build a “backdoor” that would allow a third-party to access user data.
China has proven to be a unique challenge for Apple and other foreign companies trying to do business there. Last year, China began clamping down on foreign companies that store Chinese user data overseas. The country’s regulators pointed to increasingly strict local data laws that make it nearly impossible for a company doing business there to offload user data to servers in other countries.
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Apple, which considers China a critical market, has chosen to comply with local law and keep Chinese user data in China. The move allows Apple to continue to operate in the country and according to the company, maintain user privacy.
However, some critics have wondered whether China’s regulations are an attempt by the country to control user data and ultimately spy on its people—something the government is believed to do on a regular basis.
For its part, Apple said in the e-mail to its customers that it wants to maintain “transparency” with them and will continue to keep them abreast of how the changes will affect them in the coming weeks. Apple also said that it would allow customers to deactivate their iCloud accounts if they’d prefer not to have their information stored in China.