Why Apple Is Storing Chinese Users' Data in China
NEWS ANALYSIS: Some countries demand that local user data be stored locally. Apple reportedly is storing Chinese user data in China, and that's a big deal.Apple is now beginning to store its Chinese users' data inside mainland China. According to a Reuters report, Apple is now working with China Telecom as a data center provider for Apple iCloud customers in China. Apple noted that data is encrypted and that China Telecom will not be able to access the data. Apple's move to have a China-based data center for its Chinese users indicates the importance of data sovereignty in the modern world. While data can be stored anywhere and accessed anywhere, certain areas of the world are increasingly demanding that local user data be stored locally. Data sovereignty is an important issue for China, Craig Carpenter, chief cyber-security strategist at AccessData, told eWEEK. "Encrypted or not, with user data housed onshore, the Chinese government can ensure they have theoretical access to it—and that other governments, most notably the U.S.—do not," Carpenter said. "That is a key benefit here for the Chinese government." Apple's move also signals to Chinese citizens that the government's ability to monitor any user activity remains intact, he said. In Carpenter's view, while the fact the data is encrypted may give some comfort, he said he doubts many Chinese users think the government couldn't get to the data if they really wanted to.
Looking beyond just data sovereignty, the China data center move is also an indication of the critical importance that Apple places on China.