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Apple

Apple reiterates importance of user privacy as it starts work on first China data centre 

Apple in February transferred the hosting of its China iCloud user accounts to GCBD – an enterprise owned by the Guizhou provincial government in a move to comply with Chinese government policy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2018, 6:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 3:33pm

Apple reiterated that protecting user privacy was key to the company after the maker of the iPhone started building its first China data centre. 

Security and privacy has become even more important in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), and remains the core principle that Apple adopts from the very beginning of its product design, Apple’s Greater China managing director Isabel Ge Mahe said on Saturday during the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2018 held in Guiyang, Guizhou province.

The Cupertino, California-based company hosted a foundation stone laying ceremony for Apple’s first China data centre  in Guizhou on Friday, one day before the start of the expo. The new data centre, to be jointly built by Apple and Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD), will cover about 67 hectares in Guian New Area and is expected to offer iCloud services on the mainland from 2020, according to a Xinhua state news agency report.

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Apple in February transferred the hosting of its China iCloud user accounts to GCBD – an enterprise owned by the Guizhou provincial government in a move to comply with Chinese government policy, which requires foreign services to partner with domestic data centres so that data on Chinese citizens is stored within the country.

“iCloud information such as the photos, contacts and reminders are all encrypted during transmission, and when these contents are stored on the server, they are also encrypted in most cases,” Ge Mahe said in her speech. 

Ge Mahe was appointed Apple’s chief for China in July 2017, overseeing the company’s third-largest market in sales after the US and Europe.

During her speech, she said that Apple’s China iCloud services have been operated by GCBD since February. Data stored in China will reduce delays, improve stability, and enhance the iCloud user experience, she said.

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The cooperation with GCBD means Apple, for the first time, is storing the keys for Chinese iCloud accounts in China itself. Apple promised that there would be no backdoors to the Chinese iCloud, in line with its global policy. The company will hand over information contained in the iCloud accounts if presented with a legal order by Chinese authorities, the company has said. 

Ge Mahe praised development of the big data industry in Guizhou, saying that it has helped the province, traditionally one of the poorest areas in China, to “run in the fast lane during the information age.”

“The foresight and talent demonstrated by the government staff and industry experts here (in Guizhou) make us very impressed,” according to Ge Mahe.

Apple, which did not immediately reply to an email query regarding its commencement of building up its first China data centrein Guizhou, announced a US$1 billion investment for the project last year.