Apple Begins Storing User Data on Servers in China

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Apple starts to store user data on servers in China for first time
Andy Wong/APShoppers at an Apple store in the Wangfujing shopping district in Beijing.
By Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten

BEIJING -- Apple has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China, marking the first time that the tech giant is storing user data on Chinese soil.

The data will be kept on servers provided by China Telecom, the country's third-largest wireless carrier, Apple (AAPL) said in a statement Friday.

Apple attributed the move to an effort to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service, which lets users store pictures, email and other data. It also coincides with Apple's bid to support its iTunes Store in China, where local downloads of audio and video have been steadily increasing.

The storage of user data in China represents a departure from the policies of some technology companies, notably Google (GOOG), which has long refused to build data centers in China due to censorship and privacy concerns.

"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."

The encryption keys for Apple's data on China Telecom servers would be stored offshore and not made available to China Telecom, a person familiar with the situation said.

Apple has claimed to have devised encryption systems for services such as iMessage that even Apple itself can't unlock. But some experts expressed skepticism that Apple would be able to withhold user data in the event of a government request.

"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'd have to comply with demands from the authorities," said Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.com, a research firm focused on Chinese media, Internet and consumers.

"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."

Goldkorn added that data stored in the United States is subject to similar U.S. regulations where the government can use court orders to demand private data.

A spokesman for China Telecom declined to comment.

Google, Microsoft

Technology companies seek to position data centers as close to their customers as possible because smaller physical distances mean faster service speeds.

But some companies have opted not to situate servers in China, where they would have to comply with local laws. Google and Microsoft (MSFT) don't have servers for their Gmail and Hotmail services in China.

Google publicly abandoned China in 2010 and moved its services, including its search engine, to Hong Kong-based servers after refusing to comply with Chinese government censorship.

Yahoo Inc came under criticism in 2005 after it handed to Chinese authorities emails that led to the imprisonment of Shi Tao, a journalist who obtained and leaked an internal censorship order the government had sent Chinese media.

Microsoft has seen its cloud storage service disrupted in China since early June. This development coincided with wider disruptions to overseas Internet services, including Google's, around the time of the 25th anniversary of pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"China doesn't want any digital service offered to Chinese people to be hosted offshore," said Goldkorn.

"I suppose it was inevitable that Apple had to comply if they were using foreign servers for Chinese user data."

9 PHOTOS
8 Best Things to Buy in August
See Gallery
Apple Begins Storing User Data on Servers in China
"August is a traditional month when next year's models are rolled out, and the rush to sell last year's inventory heats up," says John Ganotis, founder of CreditCardInsider.com. "For instance, General Motors (GM) promoted Chevrolet sales with a 'Love It or Return It' campaign that allowed customers to return new cars within 60 days of purchase. GM's no-haggle equivalent was called 'Total Confidence Pricing.' Cars were offered at about the same price GM gave its employees." Ganotis says that consumers can expect these and similar programs and specials this month.
Whether you're shopping for a pre-K or collegiate living, back to school sales are your best friend. "Many stores have already cut prices on supplies by up to 30 percent and are offering [buy one, get one] deals now," says DealScience.com, which delivers shopping intelligence. "Department stores like Kohl's (KSS) and Target (TGT), and office supply stores like Office Depot (ODP) and Staples (SPLS), are among those that have great seasonal savings." DealScience says some of the best savings on back to school goods are at office supply stores. Shop online for the best prices.
If you live where it stays hot, now's the time to take advantage of summer clearance sales. Of course, you can shop for next summer's wardrobe, too. Expect to find deals on sandals, tanks, swimwear, shorts and airy maxi dresses both online and at brick and mortar stores.
If you live in a cooler climate and buying summer duds at this time of year doesn't appeal, don't fret. Loads of retailers start fall promotions at the end of July and run them for several months. "Stores like Lucky Brand, Levi's and Lee offer up to 80 percent off before the summer is even over, so now is the time to purchase that new pair of jeans," says DealScience. "Gap (GPS) and Old Navy often cut prices on school styles by 40 percent." Check for specials on outerwear, boots, scarves, cardigans, denim and even belts.
According to DealNews.com, mainstream laptops are at rock bottom prices. The site says you can find a notebook for under $400 "with a 15" to 16" screen, at least 4GB of RAM, at least a 500GB hard drive, and Intel's (INTC) Haswell Core i5 processor, which is the company's mainstream chip capable of handling everything from HD movie streaming to casual gaming."
"Last month, brand-name 42" LCD HDTVs hit their lowest price of the year, coming in at an impressive $299, which is roughly $40 under 2014's average for this size category," reports DealNews. "Meanwhile, off-brand models of the same size, such as those from Insignia, Sceptre and Sanyo, hit $250, which is the best price we've seen all year for this category." The site says prices will continue to drop in August and -- perhaps -- through November.
Linens are a hot buy for both dorm-dwellers and newlyweds. With an uptick in both come August, retailers have blankets, sheets, pillows, shams, duvets, towels and washcloths marked down.
Wine grapes are typically harvested in early through late fall, which means that wineries all over the world are putting last year's bottles on sale to make room for the new stuff. Subscribe to your local wineries' newsletters and Facebook pages to stay up to date on specials. Wineries, grocers and major retailers often provide a discount when you buy at least six bottles at a time.
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION
Read Full Story

People are Reading