Apple has started storing personal data belonging to Chinese users in data centres located in China, the first time it has stored information in the country.
The Cupertino-based company has partnered up with China Telecom Corp to use its data centres in the belief that it will result in a faster service for iCloud users.
This approach is however is not mirrored by some of Apple’s competitors. Google for example refuses to build data centres in China because of censorship and privacy concerns, while access to itself services from within China itself remains problematic.
The news agency quoted a source with knowledge of the situation as saying that the encryption keys for Apple’s data on China Telecom servers would be stored offshore and not made available to China Telecom.
China has become an increasingly important growth market for Apple. In its latest financial earnings, Apple revealed that its revenue from China rose 28 percent to nearly $6bn (£3.5bn). Indeed, CEO Tim Cook reportedly told analysts that Apple’s Chinese performance was “honestly surprising”.
But operating within China is not without its problems. Earlier this month it was reported that Apple had become the latest Western firm to be excluded from government procurement lists, because of “security concerns,” following the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying.
As a result, Chinese government officials will be unable to buy Apple iPads and MacBook laptops for government projects that utilise public money. And in July Apple had to vigorously deny claims by a Chinese television broadcaster that its smartphones were a national security risk.
Google meanwhile effectively pulled out of China altogether in 2010 when its Gmail services were hacked locally. That attack, coupled with Google’s ongoing concern about China censorship, resulted in Google moving its Chinese servers to Hong Kong.
Apple had not responded to TechWeekEurope’s requests for comment at the time of publication
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