Today marks the official transfer of Apple's Chinese iCloud services from a hosting location in the United States to servers owned and operated by state-run Chinese company Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) (via CNN). With the move, all Chinese users' iCloud accounts will now be hosted on GCBD's servers, along with the iCloud encryption keys needed to unlock an iCloud account.

Apple made the transfer to comply with the latest laws enacted in China regarding regulations on cloud services, requiring foreign firms to store data within the country. At the time of the original announcement, Apple said, "While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful."

china icloud
Still, Apple remains adamant about its users' privacy:

"Apple has not created nor were we requested to create any backdoors and Apple will continue to retain control over the encryption keys to iCloud data," the Apple spokesman said.

"As with other countries, we will respond to legal requests for data that we have in our possession for individual users, never bulk data," he added.

The company decided to obey the new law in China, instead of outright discontinuing iCloud services in the country and causing a "bad user experience and less data security and privacy" for its Chinese customers. Now, starting today, any iCloud accounts on a device with location settings set to China will have their accounts switched to host GCBD, which is owned by the Guizhou provincial government in southern China.

Because of the move, the Chinese government will be able use its own legal system to ask Apple for its users' iCloud data, whereas before the government had to go through the U.S. legal system. This has been the focus of controversy regarding the move, with human rights and digital security advocates questioning whether Apple will be able to maintain and protect its customers' privacy under the new Chinese laws.

"The changes being made to iCloud are the latest indication that China's repressive legal environment is making it difficult for Apple to uphold its commitments to user privacy and security," Amnesty International warned in a statement Tuesday.

Speaking to CNN, Ronald Deibert, an expert on human rights and global digital security from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, said that Apple customers in China will need to take "extra and possibly inconvenient precautions not to store sensitive data on Apple's iCloud." Apple has noted that users can terminate their iCloud account if they don't want their data stored by GCBD, but a company spokesperson said that "more than 99.9 percent" of iCloud users in China have decided to continue using the service.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: China

Top Rated Comments

canadianreader Avatar
58 months ago
Apple values democracy, equal rights and freedom of speech as long as it doesn’t cost them money
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChromeAce Avatar
58 months ago
I’ve decided anyone who brings an iPhone into my house must have their iCloud data moved onto my iMac.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alex2792 Avatar
58 months ago
So, now the Chinese will have their sexts and cat videos monitored by a CCP instead of an NSA spook. That seems like a lateral move.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mtneer Avatar
58 months ago
How does Apple deal with the data of non-citizens who just happen to be visiting or living long term in China? Will their data get sucked into the Chinese data center as well?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
58 months ago
Basically iCloud is a trap. Use at your own risk. Assume everything on it is being scrutinized daily by the govt and that your backups are being cloned to another device. The choice is yours whether to use it or not. It certainly isn't necessary.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
58 months ago
How does Apple deal with the data of non-citizens who just happen to be visiting or living long term in China? Will their data get sucked into the Chinese data center as well?
Afaik the data going to the Chinese data center is determined by the region of your Apple ID. If your Apple ID region is set to China, your data goes there. If it's not, it doesn't. I have a couple of friends who have family in China and they've all set their region to Hong Kong. HK isn't subject to the data storage laws of mainland China.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
odyssey ark 1

Samsung Launches $3,500 'Odyssey Ark' 55-Inch Curved Gaming Display

Monday August 15, 2022 7:15 am PDT by
Samsung today announced the launch of the Odyssey Ark, which the company says is the world's first 55-inch 4K curved display with a 165Hz refresh rate for improved gaming performance. Samsung first previewed the monitor at CES, but it is now available to order. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced at $3,500, the Samsung Odyssey Ark features mini-LED technology...
top stories 13aug2022

Top Stories: New Battery Percentage Icon in iOS 16, USB-C AirPods Rumor, and More

Saturday August 13, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
This week brought some shocking news for iOS 16 beta testers, with Apple bringing back the iPhone battery percentage to the status bar after a number of years. Other news and rumors this week included word that Apple has started recording portions of its media event planned for next month to introduce the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, claims about iPhone 14 Pro pricing and Apple's...