Apple has begun keeping some of its Chinese users’ personal data in China, Reuters revealed yesterday. That’s significant because it is the first tech company to store information in the notoriously snoop-happy country, thus raising concerns that the data might be looked at by authorities. Apple is spinning the move as good news for users of its iCloud service, because it says it will help increase the speed and reliability of it. The rationale is that the closer customers are to the data centers, it will make it faster for them to access their stuff.
Apple Inc has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China, marking the first time the tech giant is storing user data on Chinese soil. The storage of user data in China represents a departure from the policies of some technology companies, notably Google Inc , which has long refused to build data centers in China due to censorship and privacy concerns. Apple said the move was part of an effort to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service, which lets users store pictures, e-mail and other data. Positioning data centers as close to customers as possible means faster service. The data will be kept on servers provided by China Telecom Corp Ltd, the country’s third-largest wireless carrier, Apple said in a statement on Friday. “Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously,” it said. “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.”