updated 10:57 am EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Apple tries to assuage privacy concerns
Apple is now hosting Chinese iCloud content on a mainland datacenter operated by China Telecom, the company has confirmed to Reuters. Questions were raised when the city of Fuzhou posted a notice on its website confirming the transfer of content to the datacenter, but then retracted the statement. The message indicated that Apple actually began the project 15 months ago, but only finished it on August 8th.
In its public comments, Apple says that the effort should "increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China." Trying to preempt privacy concerns, Apple asserts that all of the data is encrypted, and that "China Telecom does not have access to the content."
The situation may create worries nevertheless, since the Chinese government has broad powers, and has become more antagonistic towards Western technology firms given revelations of their collusion with US spy agencies. Having iCloud data on Chinese soil could potentially open Apple up to more legal pressure and/or non-consensual collection of its data.