Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) decided to start maintaining data servers in China to store that personal information of its Chinese users. It is the first time for the Cupertino-based iPhone and iPad maker to store user data in the country, which demonstrates that it is deviating from the policies of some of the technology companies when it comes to storing user data in China.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is one of the companies that strongly reject establishing a data center in China. The search engine giant is concern regarding the privacy of its users as well as the censorship of the Chinese government.
According to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) China Telecom Corporation Limited (ADR) (NYSE:CHA) will provide data centers for the iPhone and iPad maker. The Cupertino-based tech giant emphasized that it is treating the security and privacy of its users very seriously.
“We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland china. All data stored with our providers is encrypted. China Telecom does not have access to the content,” said Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in a statement.
One person familiar with the situation told Reuters that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will keep the encryption keys of data stored on the servers provided by China Telecom outside China. The encryption keys will not be available to the Chinese company.
The iPhone and iPad maker emphasized that the encryption systems for its services such as iMessage is very difficult to crack. Apple itself cannot unlock it.
Some experts in the technology industry opined that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may not be able to refuse the Chinese government’s request to obtain users’ data.
Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.com, a research firm focused on the media, internet and consumers in China commented. “If they’re making out that the data is protected and secure that’s a little disingenuous because if they want to operate a business here, that would have to comply with demands from the authorities.”
He added, “On the other hand, if they don’t store Chinese user data on a Chinese server they’re basically risking a crackdown from the authorities.”