Apple now storing local China iCloud data in China Telecom datacenters

Posted:
in iCloud edited October 2014
The official website of the city of Fuzhou, in the People's Republic of China, on Thursday posted a now-retracted statement saying that Apple had completed the transfer of iCloud data to a Jiangxi Province datacenter owned by China Telecom. Apple on Friday then confirmed that it is in fact using China Telecom data centers to store iCloud user data locally.

The announcement, since deleted
The original announcement, since deleted


According to the statement, Apple began the project -- which was completed on Aug. 8 -- some 15 months ago. There is no word on why the bulletin, first spotted by iCloud.net, was withdrawn.

In a statement to AppleInsider provided Friday, Apple confirmed the earlier leak, saying that the localized servers will improve speed and reliability for its customers.

"Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously. We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China. All data stored with our providers is encrypted, China Telecom does not have access to the content."

Apple's siting of data within mainland Chinese borders may come as a surprise to some, given the company's firm stance on privacy and security. Apple attempted to quash those concerns by revealing that the encryption keys for user data would be stored offshore and would not be available to China Telecom.


Apple Maiden NC Data Center


Racks of Apple's iCloud servers in Maiden, NC


The Chinese central government is notoriously invasive, most recently handing down a ruling forcing users of instant messaging services like WeChat to register with their real names and making it illegal to share political information without a license.

"Some people are damaging other people's rights and interests and public security in the name of freedom of speech," one spokesman for China's State Internet Information Office said of the new rules. "Cyberspace cannot become a space full of disorder and hostility," said another. "No country in the world allows dissemination of information of rumors, violence, cheating, sex and terrorism."

On Thursday, AppleInsider attempted to verify that iCloud data was staying within China, but was unable to do so. Analysis of iCloud data transfer from Shanghai saw packets flowing to Singapore, where supposed iCloud partners Microsoft and Amazon operate cloud computing clusters.

Apple had previously been linked to the construction of a new datacenter in Hong Kong -- a special administrative region of China that operates under a western-style legal system -- but the company is not known to have struck such a deal. Google moved its Chinese operations to the former British colony after clashing with mainland censors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    Not to sure what to make of this story. Could be nothing much more than just making access more efficient locally, as Apple says.
  • Reply 2 of 37
    mknoppmknopp Posts: 257member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    Not to sure what to make of this story. Could be nothing much more than just making access more efficient locally, as Apple says.



    I am sure that is a large part of it for Apple.

     

    Although, I am sure that the NSA is not happy. However, I am sure that the Chinese equivalent to the NSA is very happy.

  • Reply 3 of 37
    mknopp wrote: »
    Not to sure what to make of this story. Could be nothing much more than just making access more efficient locally, as Apple says.


    I am sure that is a large part of it for Apple.

    Although, I am sure that the NSA is not happy. However, I am sure that the Chinese equivalent to the NSA is very happy.

    If, as recently happened, a US judge can demand that Microsoft turn over the data in its servers in Ireland, and that judgment holds, it won't be long before China can ask for, and be granted access to, data from US servers. :\
  • Reply 4 of 37
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,879member

    "No country in the world allows dissemination of information of rumors, violence, cheating, sex and terrorism."

     

    Yea they do, it's the grand old US of A! Just look at all the rumors about Apple products, all the violent and sexual games and movies. As for cheating, I'd say 90% of analysts are involved in a combination of rumors and cheating. I won't touch the terrorism part but China is involved in that as much as the US is. 

  • Reply 5 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,695member
    Not to sure what to make of this story. Could be nothing much more than just making access more efficient locally, as Apple says.

    ...and so there could be more to this? I would have expected some surprise on your part that Apple did not use Hong Kong servers as some other Western companies do to avoid Chinese censors and citizen tracking. Uploading iCloud data to Chinese controlled servers invites suspicions of Apple's motivation does it not? If the story gets more widespread reporting I'd expect some Apple damage control.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,331member
    If you want to business in any country, you play by their rules. This is a non-story.
  • Reply 7 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,429member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post





    If, as recently happened, a US judge can demand that Microsoft turn over the data in its servers in Ireland, and that judgment holds, it won't be long before China can ask for, and be granted access to, data from US servers. image

    If the data is owned by Chinese companies, perhaps.  Do you have much data held with Chinese companies?

  • Reply 8 of 37
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram

    If, as recently happened, a US judge can demand that Microsoft turn over the data in its servers in Ireland, and that judgment holds, it won't be long before China can ask for, and be granted access to, data from US servers. image

    Yes, also this may keep China's attention away from the USA iCloud data base.

  • Reply 9 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    The data gets encrypted AFTER it arrives at Apple servers. What is stopping China from wiretapping the last hop in and first hop out?

  • Reply 10 of 37
    I think this is about China's distrust of NSA -- it wants to be able to block spying by the NSA on the nation's leaders (both political and corporate/financial) without forcing them to do without iPhones.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    My concern is more with how is the energy generated that powers the data center? China is a notorious user of coal as a power source. Does Apple have a deal that these servers are powered by clean energy? If not, then they need to rethink this.
  • Reply 12 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post



    My concern is more with how is the energy generated that powers the data center? China is a notorious user of coal as a power source. Does Apple have a deal that these servers are powered by clean energy? If not, then they need to rethink this.

    They could do what they initially did in North Carolina. Buy clean energy from a different source and sell it to the power company. Even if the energy used in the data center is dirty, they have a net lower carbon footprint.

  • Reply 13 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    ...and so there could be more to this? I would have expected some surprise on your part that Apple did not use Hong Kong servers as some other Western companies do to avoid Chinese censors and citizen tracking. Uploading iCloud data to Chinese controlled servers invites suspicions of Apple's motivation does it not? If the story gets more widespread reporting I'd expect some Apple damage control.

     

    There could be, but I see nothing in Apple's response that leads me to suspect some nefarious intent at this stage. Moreover, moving something to Hongkong is a fig-leaf, since China de facto controls HK. If/when the chips are down, it does not matter much whether it's in mainland or HK.

  • Reply 14 of 37

    (Deleted; mstone clarified the question).

  • Reply 15 of 37
    sacto joe wrote: »
    My concern is more with how is the energy generated that powers the data center? China is a notorious user of coal as a power source. Does Apple have a deal that these servers are powered by clean energy? If not, then they need to rethink this.

    mstone wrote: »
    They could do what they initially did in North Carolina. Buy clean energy from a different source and sell it to the power company. Even if the energy used in the data center is dirty, they have a net lower carbon footprint.
    If the clean energy source were built in China by Apple and owned by Apple, I'd go along. Buying power is onoe thing. Financing the generation is a whole different issue. The first simply supports clean energy projects. The second actually creates them in the first place.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    If the data is owned by Chinese companies, perhaps.  Do you have much data held with Chinese companies?


     

    If I was Chinese -- which I am not -- I guess I would? Don't understand the question.

    I think he may be referring to a scenario where a Chinese court could force a Chinese based company to turn over data they have stored in a United States data center.

     

    Another possible case could be a US court demanding Apple's data stored in China based on the precedent of the MS Ireland court ruling.

  • Reply 17 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,695member
    There could be, but I see nothing in Apple's response that leads me to suspect some nefarious intent at this stage.
    Of course not. No company would want to admit to anything "nefarious" much less announce it.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,429member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    (Deleted; mstone clarified the question).


    I'm just wondering what the concern is.  It sounded like you were worried about the Chinese government getting their hands on your data, but I don't see how that's at all likely unless you're storing your data on Chinese services.

     

    The point I was alluding to was that I don't think there's any foreseeable threat of the Chinese government being able to demand that an American company give up data on American citizens.  Or maybe they'll demand it, but there's no legal recourse for it.

     

     

    EDIT: Oh, lol.  Didn't even realised the post had changed between me clicking quote and posting my reply.

  • Reply 19 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    There could be, but I see nothing in Apple's response that leads me to suspect some nefarious intent at this stage.


    Of course not. No company would want to admit to anything "nefarious" much less announce it.

     

    Please try not to be pedantic, and try to follow. No one suggested that a "company would admit to anything nefarious." That would be childish. I said -- if you'd care to read and process again -- that there was nothing in what Apple said, given the story and its context, that I interpret as signaling something nefarious on their part and at this stage.

     

    Moreover, you brought up HK as though that was a big deal. It amounts to a b-s hill of beans. 

  • Reply 20 of 37
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

     

    I'm just wondering what the concern is.  It sounded like you were worried about the Chinese government getting their hands on your data, but I don't see how that's at all likely unless you're storing your data on Chinese services.

     

    The point I was alluding to was that I don't think there's any foreseeable threat of the Chinese government being able to demand that an American company give up data on American citizens.  Or maybe they'll demand it, but there's no legal recourse for it.


     

    I don't have any personal concerns about data on me. My point was that, in a world in which the courts in a country can demand that home country corporations' and citizens' data in foreign servers be turned over, it does not matter much if Apple stores data on Chinese citizens in servers in China or elsewhere.

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