Apple informs Chinese customers of iCloud service handover in late February

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple will be passing control of its iCloud services covering mainland China to a Chinese company starting from late February, a message to customers in the country reveals, with the shift in operations made to comply with local cybersecurity and data protection laws.

Racks of Apple's iCloud servers in Maiden, NC
Racks of Apple's iCloud servers in Maiden, NC


According to the message, the changeover will take place on February 28, reports the BBC, with Apple partnering with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co. Ltd. The message from Apple claims the partnership will enable us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations.

As part of the transfer of operations, affected users will have to agree to a new set of terms and conditions if they wish to continue using the services. The new terms include a clause stating that both Apple and GCBD will have access to data stored on the servers.

Customers based within mainland China have the option to terminate their account before the end of February, if they do not wish their data to be handled by GCBD. Those based outside mainland China remain unaffected by the changes.




The handover of iCloud services to a China-based firm may be of concern to privacy advocates, considering previous efforts by the country's government to censor or control its citizen's use of the Internet. There is also the suggestion that the rules make it easier for the government to perform surveillance on individuals in the country, and to access their personal data.

Apple advised that despite the changeover, it had strong data privacy and security protections in place, and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems.

Apple activated its first data center in China with GCBD in July last year, one month after the new laws were ratified, with the project receiving close scrutiny by the Guizhou provincial government via a working committee. The rules mandate certain data protections for Chinese citizens, including forcing foreign firms operating in China to store sensitive data on domestic servers, and requiring the same companies to pass security reviews before being allowed to transfer the data out of the country.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 59
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,079member

    The US should implement the same laws, any company wishing to do business in the US has to store US customer data on servers owns and operated by a US company.

    Everyone is focusing on the fact this allows the Chinese government control over the data, but this could have been achieved by simply telling Apple data mush be stored on servers in china which Apple owns and operates., This law also forces Apple to pay a Chinese company to operation and maintain the systems & data for Apple. It is China's ways of making sure Chinese companies make money of US companies. Out stupid Law makers in the country fail to see and understand this, yes globalization is good as long as everyone play by the same rules. This means People in the US just lost the chance to have a high paying job since Apple was forced to outsource its operations to another company in another country.

    patchythepirateh2pdeepinsiderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 59
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,506member
    Right, so if Apple and GCBD have access to the data then it is no longer encrypted, yes?

    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 59
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,506member
    maestro64 said:

    The US should implement the same laws, any company wishing to do business in the US has to store US customer data on servers owns and operated by a US company.

    Everyone is focusing on the fact this allows the Chinese government control over the data, but this could have been achieved by simply telling Apple data mush be stored on servers in china which Apple owns and operates., This law also forces Apple to pay a Chinese company to operation and maintain the systems & data for Apple. It is China's ways of making sure Chinese companies make money of US companies. Out stupid Law makers in the country fail to see and understand this, yes globalization is good as long as everyone play by the same rules. This means People in the US just lost the chance to have a high paying job since Apple was forced to outsource its operations to another company in another country.

    Apple did not outsource the whole iCloud service to China. Just the service for people living in China. 
    muthuk_vanalingamracerhomie3jbdragoncoolfactorlolliverJWSCwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 59
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,479member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Right, so if Apple and GCBD have access to the data then it is no longer encrypted, yes?

    My guess, and it's based on what the Chinese are requiring, is that at minimum they provided the Chinese a decryption key and at worse it's not encrypted at all.

    So as of February at least 20% of the entire iOS user base will no longer have their iCloud accounts safe from intrusion and inspection by "authorities". That's significant. It would seem that the pursuit of profits can trump user privacy even at Apple. If they were truly one of the staunchest protectors of privacy I believe we are all on that downward slope now, with the line that determines how firm that commitment is a bit better defined today.  
    muthuk_vanalingamcornchip
  • Reply 5 of 59
    More extortionate business practices by the PRC. Why haven’t these dirtbags been kicked out of the WTO yet, I ask to no one in particular?
    patchythepirateJWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 59
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,079member
    Rayz2016 said:
    maestro64 said:

    The US should implement the same laws, any company wishing to do business in the US has to store US customer data on servers owns and operated by a US company.

    Everyone is focusing on the fact this allows the Chinese government control over the data, but this could have been achieved by simply telling Apple data mush be stored on servers in china which Apple owns and operates., This law also forces Apple to pay a Chinese company to operation and maintain the systems & data for Apple. It is China's ways of making sure Chinese companies make money of US companies. Out stupid Law makers in the country fail to see and understand this, yes globalization is good as long as everyone play by the same rules. This means People in the US just lost the chance to have a high paying job since Apple was forced to outsource its operations to another company in another country.

    Apple did not outsource the whole iCloud service to China. Just the service for people living in China. 

    That is my point those Jobs were once done by Apple employees, and I would beat some are US based, i doubt anyone lost their job in the US, but conceivably, as Apple business grow in China more American would be hire to help manage that growth, that will not happen now. This law is more than about Chinese Citizens "Privacy" it is also about creating jobs in China and Chinese companies making money from US companies.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 59
    Apple gives you an option.
    Start using local iTunes backup ,if you are in China.
    GG1GeorgeBMacstevenozcornchiplostkiwiwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 59
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,843member
    I hope people realize that this isn't that different from iCloud servers based in the US. With proper legal requests, our government can ask for data stored in specific iCloud user accounts right now. With the current views of the FBI and Congress, full access to everything else isn't far behind. We criticize China for demanding access to all data but these same demands in the US, and for that matter the entire world, isn't far behind. I don't know whether China will be able to encrypt everything on their iCloud servers or not or whether iPhones and iPads are allowed to use encrypted transport of data but at least there's the possibility China isn't getting a encryption-less iOS like I imagine the locally built phones are getting and the same worthless encryption almost all Android phones already have. 

    As for Apple losing employees in China to Chinese technicians, what's wrong with that? Apple is a multi-national company using local people to staff sales, service, and operations around the world. Apple is not a reborn England trying to colonize the entire world with Americans, that's the US military's job. (/s)
    dewmeGeorgeBMacfastasleeplolliverkingofsomewherehotjony0
  • Reply 9 of 59
    maestro64 said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    maestro64 said:

    The US should implement the same laws, any company wishing to do business in the US has to store US customer data on servers owns and operated by a US company.

    Everyone is focusing on the fact this allows the Chinese government control over the data, but this could have been achieved by simply telling Apple data mush be stored on servers in china which Apple owns and operates., This law also forces Apple to pay a Chinese company to operation and maintain the systems & data for Apple. It is China's ways of making sure Chinese companies make money of US companies. Out stupid Law makers in the country fail to see and understand this, yes globalization is good as long as everyone play by the same rules. This means People in the US just lost the chance to have a high paying job since Apple was forced to outsource its operations to another company in another country.

    Apple did not outsource the whole iCloud service to China. Just the service for people living in China. 

    That is my point those Jobs were once done by Apple employees, and I would beat some are US based, i doubt anyone lost their job in the US, but conceivably, as Apple business grow in China more American would be hire to help manage that growth, that will not happen now. This law is more than about Chinese Citizens "Privacy" it is also about creating jobs in China and Chinese companies making money from US companies.
    I guess you are talking about a very minor aspect of a very important decision made by Apple. If you are talking about Jobs, the huge amount of manufacturing jobs that are already being done in China should be the bigger focus, than the small number of people who are going to manage the data center for cloud data generated out of china. The real issue is - What happened to Apple, the Privacy champion who would defend the interest of its customers at any cost (including ignoring the potential ad revenue generated through it or fight against the mighty FBI) Vs the competitors who just follow what is being told to them by the governments or would sell their customers for any cost?
  • Reply 10 of 59
    You can criticize Apple all you want .
    But there are easy ways to get VPNs, just by changing the App Store country.
    Apple also allows you to use iTunes backup ,for more privacy.If you live in China & you do not trust Apple use iTunes.

    This is not the same thing as wanting individual device Backdoor.

    Stop trying to hype this up.
    edited January 10 lolliver
  • Reply 11 of 59
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,479member
    You can criticize Apple all you want .
    But there are easy ways to get VPNs, just by changing the App Store country.
    Apple also allows you to use iTunes backup ,for more privacy.If you live in China & you do not trust Apple use iTunes.

    This is not the same thing as wanting individual device Backdoor.

    Stop trying to hype this up.
    If I understand it correctly an iTunes China account must also grant access to Chinese authorities. There is no magic safe haven under the new security rules in place.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 59
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,245member
    You can criticize Apple all you want .
    But there are easy ways to get VPNs, just by changing the App Store country.
    Apple also allows you to use iTunes backup ,for more privacy.If you live in China & you do not trust Apple use iTunes.

    This is not the same thing as wanting individual device Backdoor.

    Stop trying to hype this up.
    Unless your country blocks VPNs...a VPN isn't the savior to all things. There are ways to block VPN's. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 59
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,479member
    macxpress said:
    You can criticize Apple all you want .
    But there are easy ways to get VPNs, just by changing the App Store country.
    Apple also allows you to use iTunes backup ,for more privacy.If you live in China & you do not trust Apple use iTunes.

    This is not the same thing as wanting individual device Backdoor.

    Stop trying to hype this up.
    Unless your country blocks VPNs...a VPN isn't the savior to all things. There are ways to block VPN's. 
    ...as China is now aggressively doing starting this month and going into overdrive with the effort as the party congress approaches. Spoofing your location won't help. Shadowsocks might still work tho, not sure.
    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingampatchythepirate
  • Reply 14 of 59
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,115member
    More extortionate business practices by the PRC. Why haven’t these dirtbags been kicked out of the WTO yet, I ask to no one in particular?
    To even things out a little, yesterday Huawei was due to announce a groundbreaking deal with AT&T, to have Huawei flagships sold in the US via the carrier for the first time.

    It would have been an earthquake for the current flagship duopoly of Apple and Samsung.

    The day before the announcement, the Wall Street Journal revealed that AT&T had backed out of the deal, literally at the last minute, thwarting the planned rollout.

    Hours later other media signalled potential US government pressure had been applied to force AT&T to change their plans, supposedly on (national) security grounds.

    However, the US government seemingly has no issue with Huawei shipping phones into the US via regular retailers (mostly on line).

    From a security perspective this just doesn't make sense. Are the phones a threat or not (we are not talking about backbone infrastructure)? If they are, the US should put some evidence on the table (something it hasn't been able to do over the last five years) or just let the players compete commercially.

    Operation Shotgiant of course has already put the US government in a politically embarrassing position.

    Now, there is a lot to feed on in this situation and conspiracy theorists on both sides are going to have a field day with all this, but if we are going to bring the WTO into it I can't see any real reasons for thwarting Huawei from within Government (assuming the rumours are true) unless it is some kind of protectionism.

    Are they saying 'you are free to sell in the US as long as you aren't a commercial threat?' Because if security was at issue I don't see why they just don't ban them outright and put the evidence on the table.

    How does selling phones via AT&T differ (from a security perspective) from via Amazon and Best Buy?

    Or did AT&T just have a change of heart?


    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingammike54
  • Reply 15 of 59
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,506member
    gatorguy said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    Right, so if Apple and GCBD have access to the data then it is no longer encrypted, yes?

    My guess, and it's based on what the Chinese are requiring, is that at minimum they provided the Chinese a decryption key and at worse it's not encrypted at all.

    So as of February at least 20% of the entire iOS user base will no longer have their iCloud accounts safe from intrusion and inspection by "authorities". That's significant. It would seem that the pursuit of profits can trump user privacy even at Apple. If they were truly one of the staunchest protectors of privacy I believe we are all on that downward slope now, with the line that determines how firm that commitment is a bit better defined today.  
    Well, I was asking for clarification, not a guess.

    Futhermore, twenty per cent of the iOS user base does not mean that twenty per cent of the user base are active iCloud users. The vast majority of the Chinese use WeChat instead of Messages for example. 

    What Apple needs to clarify is how they're granting access to the government, and how can they guarantee that whatever method they’re using will not compromise their customers not living in China. 

    Update from the BBC. 

    Okay, so Apple says it’s not a back door. That was my main concern, because a backdoor would be found. Now what about that decryption key?
    edited January 10 patchythepiratelostkiwi
  • Reply 16 of 59
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,479member
    Rayz2016 said:
    gatorguy said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    Right, so if Apple and GCBD have access to the data then it is no longer encrypted, yes?

    My guess, and it's based on what the Chinese are requiring, is that at minimum they provided the Chinese a decryption key and at worse it's not encrypted at all.

    So as of February at least 20% of the entire iOS user base will no longer have their iCloud accounts safe from intrusion and inspection by "authorities". That's significant. It would seem that the pursuit of profits can trump user privacy even at Apple. If they were truly one of the staunchest protectors of privacy I believe we are all on that downward slope now, with the line that determines how firm that commitment is a bit better defined today.  
    I was asking for clarification, not a guess.

    Futhermore, twenty per cent of the iOS user base does not mean that twenty per cent of the user base are active iCloud users. The vast majority of the Chinese use WeChat instead of Messages for example. 

    What Apple needs to clarify is how they're granting access to the government, and how can they guarantee that whatever method they’re using will not compromise their customers not living in China. 
    If you're waiting for Apple to tell you "how it's done" I'll place a wager that you'll be disappointed. This is not something Apple wishes to draw attention to and may even be illegal for them to discuss. China will have access to millions of iPhone users iCloud accounts and the contents thereof as of next month. That's a fact, and mandated by Chinese authorities. If Apple is going to market in China they will be required to compromise their vaunted user privacy to do so. No guess. Fact. The only "guess" I was making was concerning the method Apple has chosen to grant access to that "encrypted" data, not the fact it is done.

    Under Article 20 of China's State Cryptography Administration Encryption Law now in effect Apple (like other providers of encryption services in China) is obligated to provide "decryption technology support" in order for Chinese authorities to access that encrypted data as needed for broadly defined and in essence open-ended "criminal investigations". Under Article 37 if Apple refuses to do so or fails to keep the "investigation" confidential they are subject to unspecified monetary fines and individual Apple employees can be jailed for upwards of 15 days. Article 33 also provides for fines if Apple maintains any encrypted services not accessible to authorities within China. 

    That does not mean Apple has no option. They do, just not a very profitable one down a path they are very unlikely to take. 
    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingam1STnTENDERBITSfastasleep
  • Reply 17 of 59
    gatorguy said:
    You can criticize Apple all you want .
    But there are easy ways to get VPNs, just by changing the App Store country.
    Apple also allows you to use iTunes backup ,for more privacy.If you live in China & you do not trust Apple use iTunes.

    This is not the same thing as wanting individual device Backdoor.

    Stop trying to hype this up.
    If I understand it correctly an iTunes China account must also grant access to Chinese authorities. There is no magic safe haven under the new security rules in place.
    Your local backup has no public keys.
    GG1lostkiwi
  • Reply 18 of 59
    People ,use Local backups, which have no public keys ,if you live in China & don’t trust Apple with the cloud data.
    GG1lostkiwi
  • Reply 19 of 59
    mike54mike54 Posts: 185member
    Apple has to obey the countries laws or get out. China is a large country with 1.4 billion people, something the US cannot even conceive of having to control. Worried about Chinese spying on users? Well the US gov departments in collusion with private companies is very effective on spying on everyone and all their communications. The US has the worlds largest and most comprehensive espionage apparatus, far greater than any nearest competitor, and is not afraid to use it, even for offence, as has been demonstrated in recent years.
    fastasleepkingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 20 of 59
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,700member
    maestro64 said:

    The US should implement the same laws, any company wishing to do business in the US has to store US customer data on servers owns and operated by a US company.

    Everyone is focusing on the fact this allows the Chinese government control over the data, but this could have been achieved by simply telling Apple data mush be stored on servers in china which Apple owns and operates., This law also forces Apple to pay a Chinese company to operation and maintain the systems & data for Apple. It is China's ways of making sure Chinese companies make money of US companies. Out stupid Law makers in the country fail to see and understand this, yes globalization is good as long as everyone play by the same rules. This means People in the US just lost the chance to have a high paying job since Apple was forced to outsource its operations to another company in another country.

    You do know Apple already has a number of their own servers already in the U.S. on both coasts. This is now you get faster speeds which is especially important for things like SIRI. Apple has tons of High Paying Jobs in the U.S. Apple's new UFO can hold 12,000 Apple Employee's alone. As for China, it's going to make Apple services in China FASTER. Of course there's the Negative of China having a easier time spying on their own Citizens. Russia has demanded the same thing.
    coolfactorracerhomie3
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