Apple is outsourcing its Chinese iCloud operations to a local firm in southern China starting on February 28th, as spotted by 9to5Mac. The move has been known since last year when Apple announced its partnership with the firm, but the exact date was confirmed today.
The firm is called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). It’s based in Guizhou Province and supervised by a board ran by government-owned businesses. In emails to mainland Chinese customers, Apple says that the move enables “us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations.”
But there’s also the chance that closer ties with the Chinese government might mean more regulation, which Apple has a record of abiding closely to in the past. Last July, Apple deleted VPN apps from the App Store that had helped netizens evade Chinese censorship, “because it includes content that is illegal in China.” Those who aren’t happy with the move at least have the option of closing their iCloud accounts.
In February, Apple will transfer Chinese iCloud data to the GCBD-managed data center in Guizhou. It won’t make any visible difference to Chinese customers on the front-facing end, and Apple tells customers that data remains secure and private. “Apple has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” it says.