Reporters Without Borders urges journalists to move or close Chinese iCloud accounts

Posted:
in iCloud edited February 8
Watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is recommending that journalists operating out of China either close or migrate their iCloud accounts by the end of the month, as Apple is on the verge of transferring local control to a company tied to the Chinese government.




Apple will formally hand the reins of its Chinese iCloud servers over to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data on Feb. 28, RSF said, quoted by the Hong Kong Free Press. That will put the personal data of both journalists and sources within reach of the Chinese government, which is known to suppress political dissent and other media content it considers a threat.

The local iCloud user agreement states that both Apple and GCBD can access user data, RSF noted.

"Apple promises that it will never give governments a backdoor to content, but there is no way of being sure about this," wrote Cedric Alviani, the head of RSF for East Asia. "Knowing the Chinese government's determination and the extent of the means of pressure at its disposal, it will end up getting its way sooner or later, if it hasn't already."

Apple has sometimes been criticized for its willingness to bend or break its standards in order to do business in China -- this includes remarks by Republican and Democrat politicians. In regions like the U.S. and Europe the company is normally a staunch advocate of free speech, privacy, and other human rights, but in China it complies with censorship requests, for instance by pulling controversial apps from the App Store.

A second Chinese data center is said to be in the works for Ulanqab City, though it will only open in 2020.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Journalists, should know by now to always use Local Encrypted iTunes backup.
    Never use Google Cloud either.
    Are they actually that stupid?
    razorpit
  • Reply 2 of 25
    The Chinese citizenry is largely OK with being constantly monitored and occasionally imprisoned for whatever “offends” the state, because they haven’t had another major uprising since Tianenmen Square. The comforts that centrally planned pseudo-capitalism brings quells a lot of complaints.
    jbdragonrazorpit
  • Reply 3 of 25
    I don’t know how they do local backups on Android.
    Does Google even allow to do that?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,797member
    I don’t know how they do local backups on Android.
    Does Google even allow to do that?
    Someone will be along in a minute to explain it you. 

    :-)

    lkruppGG1lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,797member
    The Chinese citizenry is largely OK with being constantly monitored and occasionally imprisoned for whatever “offends” the state, because they haven’t had another major uprising since Tianenmen Square. The comforts that centrally planned pseudo-capitalism brings quells a lot of complaints.
    They complain a lot actually, through local government offices. 

    Still I’d still be very wary of organising group protests through iCloud – or any other service based in China. 

    And didn’t they recently grab a number of book sellers travelling through Hong Kong?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 25
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,088member
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    Reins.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,725member
    I don’t know how they do local backups on Android.

    ...always use Local Encrypted iTunes backup

    Never use Google Cloud either.

    As Ray anticipated it's an easy lookup. Use your favorite browser to find how it's done.

    FWIW there is not the same concern with Google Cloud as they maintain no servers directly accessible to the Chinese government, Google having made the choice several years ago to leave rather than comply with government open-access demands. That might not make them "not evil" in some eyes but it is what it is.  Companies can have principals and stick to them even if it costs them financially. 

    Anyway mixing Google into the Chinese conversation and in particular this thread is an effort from you at misdirection. Google has no comparable problem there which is why they weren't mentioned in the story.
    edited February 8 jbdragonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,880member
    It's interesting how people see things in other countries while not seeing what's happening right in front of them. iCloud information is available to US government officials simply by filling out the proper forms. Apple is required by law to provide the data located on US Apple servers so what's the real difference with the Chinese government having access to the same type of information within their country? As for US politicians complaining about foreign censorship, they're simply grandstanding and many would love to be able to force Apple, and others, to restrict content as well as give them access to all stored data. It's the old kettle saying. For those of you who are too young or hate reading history books (yes, those things made out of paper) you don't have to go back very many years to see all sorts of US government atrocities that are worse than what's happening in China right now. Apple is following the rules of the country they choose to do business in and work to provide the best products they are allow to produce within the restrictions of the local government. This is the same thing they have to deal with whether it's the US, EU, India, Brazil or any of the other countries in the world, all of whom want to restrict something.
    jbdragonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,725member
    rob53 said:
    It's interesting how people see things in other countries while not seeing what's happening right in front of them. iCloud information is available to US government officials simply by filling out the proper forms. 

    Apple is required by law to provide the data located on US Apple servers so what's the real difference with the Chinese government having access to the same type of information within their country? 
    The difference? I'm certain you already know. In the US and most of the world Apple stills controls the access and holds all the keys. Apple has the choice of determining the legality of the request, complying with it or not, and challenging it in court in need be. In China Apple has no say over the process, nor do they have sole control of the keys.
    edited February 8 muthuk_vanalingamivanh
  • Reply 11 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,797member
    lkrupp said:
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    Apple probably sees it this way:

    Critics will “voice concerns” whatever they do, and critics don’t pay the bills. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,725member
    Rayz2016 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    Apple probably sees it this way:

    Critics will “voice concerns” whatever they do, and critics don’t pay the bills. 
    We agree again. Most business decisions balance risk to reward. Apple obviously feels the money makes a few privacy concessions worthwhile. Lots of companies make the same choice so they're not alone in their reasoning. There's big money in China.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,797member
    gatorguy said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    Apple probably sees it this way:

    Critics will “voice concerns” whatever they do, and critics don’t pay the bills. 
    We agree again. Most business decisions balance risk to reward. Apple obviously feels the money makes a few privacy concessions worthwhile. Lots of companies make the same choice so they're not alone in their reasoning. There's big money in China.
    Well, Google obviously did too, since they’d already agreed in 2005 to host their servers in China along with all that entails. 

    So, while the censorship angle makes for good PR, the real reason may be a little different. 

    https://www.forbes.com/2010/01/15/baidu-china-search-intelligent-technology-google.html#633597518844

    Between Baidu’s superior localised search and government protectionism, Google couldn’t make any headway against the Chinese competition, so decided to save face and pull out. It’s also possible that China’s reticence concerning foreign companies collecting data on their citizens conflicted with Google’s business model. 

    Still, given the amount of “bending of the knee” that Tim Cook still has to do to maintain a presence there, I often wonder if it’s worth it. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,725member
    Rayz2016 said:
    gatorguy said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    Apple probably sees it this way:

    Critics will “voice concerns” whatever they do, and critics don’t pay the bills. 
    We agree again. Most business decisions balance risk to reward. Apple obviously feels the money makes a few privacy concessions worthwhile. Lots of companies make the same choice so they're not alone in their reasoning. There's big money in China.
    Well, Google obviously did too, since they’d already agreed in 2005 to host their servers in China along with all that entails. 
    Tho for perhaps obvious reasons you would like to imply that Google too granted Chinese access same as Apple and thus include them in the conversation in order to dilute it I've not ever read about Google server keys being given out or Chinese access granted or privacy intentionally exposed. If you have let us know.
    Sometimes it really isn't about Google :smile:
    edited February 8 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 15 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,674member
    What does it matter if they're not doing anything illegal? /s
  • Reply 16 of 25
    gatorguy said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    Apple probably sees it this way:

    Critics will “voice concerns” whatever they do, and critics don’t pay the bills. 
    We agree again. Most business decisions balance risk to reward. Apple obviously feels the money makes a few privacy concessions worthwhile. Lots of companies make the same choice so they're not alone in their reasoning. There's big money in China.

    It isn't about "a few privacy concessions".  
    It is about following the law in whatever country you operate in.
    Apple cannot base their Chinese iCloud servers outside of China since that would be illegal.

    Even Google had to base their cloud servers for Chinese customers in China - having done so since 2005. 
  • Reply 17 of 25
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,147member
    Journalists, should know by now to always use Local Encrypted iTunes backup.
    Never use Google Cloud either.
    Are they actually that stupid?
    Yes, most journalists are not tech savvy, As much as I think Apple will not provide a back door, but once the information is under the control of a Chinese company controlled by the government all bets are off.

    People need to stop pressuring US companies to fix what they do not like about the Chinese government. The opposite could happen, China could start pressuring companies for how the US or EU government runs and does things. Remember there is 1.3B of them to our 0.35B, their buying power is growing fast than ours. If you do not want other countries messing with our freedoms stop messing with theirs.
    edited February 8 Soli
  • Reply 18 of 25
    maestro64 said:
    Journalists, should know by now to always use Local Encrypted iTunes backup.
    Never use Google Cloud either.
    Are they actually that stupid?
    Yes, most journalists are not tech savvy, As much as I think Apple will not provide a back door, but once the information is under the control of a Chinese company controlled by the government all bets are off.

    People need to stop pressuring US companies to fix what the do not like about the Chinese government. The opposite could happen, China could start pressuring companies for how the US or EU government runs and does things. Remember the 1.3B of them to our 0.35 Billion, their buy power is growing fast than ours. If you do not want other countries messing with our freedoms stop messing with theirs.
    People need to stop pressuring US companies to fix what the do not like about the Chinese government. - This is NOT really the case. Apple does moral-posturing in US, but NOT in china. It is this "hypocrisy" that people are calling out. Hiding behind "Apple follows the laws of respective countries" excuse does not work. Then Apple should shut up their mouth in US as well and just get on with business.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,725member
    gatorguy said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t for Apple, between a rock and a hard place. Leave China and your company shrinks, or stay, bend the standards, and suffer the wrath of critics. 
    Apple probably sees it this way:

    Critics will “voice concerns” whatever they do, and critics don’t pay the bills. 
    We agree again. Most business decisions balance risk to reward. Apple obviously feels the money makes a few privacy concessions worthwhile. Lots of companies make the same choice so they're not alone in their reasoning. There's big money in China.

    It isn't about "a few privacy concessions".  
    It is about following the law in whatever country you operate in.
    Apple cannot base their Chinese iCloud servers outside of China since that would be illegal.

    Even Google had to base their cloud servers for Chinese customers in China - having done so since 2005. 
    No sir, still has nothing to do with Google. They have NO servers accessible to the Chinese. Fact. So no they are NOT doing so since 2005.

    As I said to Ray a bit earlier it's not always about Google. It's OK to discuss Apple without saying "'yeah but.. But... GOOGLE!" as tho it's a magic word that makes whatever might be troubling all better.

    Besides, there's a number of AI members that would prefer keeping Google out of so many discussions and vehemently said as much, yet it's most often some Apple fan who introduces them in an unrelated thread. A bit of a disconnect... 
    edited February 8 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 25
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,147member
    maestro64 said:
    Journalists, should know by now to always use Local Encrypted iTunes backup.
    Never use Google Cloud either.
    Are they actually that stupid?
    Yes, most journalists are not tech savvy, As much as I think Apple will not provide a back door, but once the information is under the control of a Chinese company controlled by the government all bets are off.

    People need to stop pressuring US companies to fix what the do not like about the Chinese government. The opposite could happen, China could start pressuring companies for how the US or EU government runs and does things. Remember the 1.3B of them to our 0.35 Billion, their buy power is growing fast than ours. If you do not want other countries messing with our freedoms stop messing with theirs.
    People need to stop pressuring US companies to fix what the do not like about the Chinese government. - This is NOT really the case. Apple does moral-posturing in US, but NOT in china. It is this "hypocrisy" that people are calling out. Hiding behind "Apple follows the laws of respective countries" excuse does not work. Then Apple should shut up their mouth in US as well and just get on with business.

    They do that because of people like you who would scream to high heavy if they do not pander to your belief system. If you are truly that concern what is going on in China go there and do something about it. As I said these kind of issues work both ways, if you do not want someone in your bedroom you tell you what is morally right stay out of their bedroom. You do realize China is the largest US debt holder, do you think they may have something to say about what our government does and does not do. BTW the US makes other countries do things because we hold money over their heads as well. It is not US companies jobs to fix things in other countries based on what you think is right and wrong. China could toss apple out, then what you just cost a bunch Americans their jobs.

    Not that this is the sole reason for this decision, but Apple had iCloud account & servers outside China for a long time and what was in China was owned by Apple and China left Apple alone where they made google and other company put their servers in China under China control. What change to cause the policy change with Apple, it was the US government actions of spying on citizen and non-citizen information. China is in part just reacting to what the US is doing. Apple for the most part get away with a lot more in China than any other US companies. China treats Apple well and protects Apples business in China to some degree, not other company gets this treatment.
    danh
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