Apple bows to China’s new stringent cyber laws, announces first ever Chinese data center
Apple will reportedly open its first ever Chinese data center in order to comply with China’s new controversial and stringent cybersecurity laws.
The tech giant’s new data center is set to be located in the south-western Guizhou province and will be operated in partnership with a local data management firm called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd (GCBD).
China recently passed its new strict cyber laws which require foreign companies to store user data within the country.
Apple is reportedly the first foreign firm to announce its agreement to comply with China’s new cyber laws after it went into effect on 1 June, which previously raised concerns among privacy advocates as well as international businesses.
“The addition of this data center will allow us to improve the speed and reliability of our products and services while also complying with newly passed regulations,” Apple told Reuters, adding that the data center was part of the tech giant’s $1bn (£775m) planned investment into the Guizhou province.
“These regulations require cloud services be operated by Chinese companies so we’re partnering with GCBD to offer iCloud,” Apple added.
Apple says its systems will have ‘no backdoors’
Critics of China’s controversial cyber laws have raised concerns about the new regulations being too “vague,” also indicating that the laws unfairly target foreign firms. However, Beijing has refuted such allegations.
Apple also reportedly said that it had strong privacy protection systems in place to ensure the security of users’ data. “No backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” Apple ensured.
China’s new laws are likely a reflection of the nation’s desire to foster tech independence and create its own tech industry.
The iPhone, which accounts for over 20% of Apple’s global sales can be considered symbolic of China and Apple’s interdependent relationship so far.
However, over the past few years, Beijing has ramped up pressure on foreign companies, especially tech giants, to operate their computer servers within its borders.
Although Apple’s new data center marks the first time that the tech giant has partnered with a local firm for its cloud services, the company has said that it would retain the encryption keys for all the data stored at its Guizhou centre.
The New York Times reported that Apple’s local partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data would not have access to users’ data. In other words, the local firm will not be able to view users’ documents and photos stored in their iCloud accounts, without Apple’s permission.
Apple is one of the few foreign tech firms that has thrived in China. In comparison, other Silicon Valley tech giants such as Facebook and Google remain banned in the country.
However, Apple’s history of complying with Chinese regulations, such as agreeing to remove the New York Times news app from its app store, has likely helped it gain a foothold in the country.