Apple starts storing user data on servers in China for first time

“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,” Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten report for Reuters.

“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,” Shih and Carsten report. “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,” Shih and Carsten report. “A source with knowledge of the situation said the encryption keys for Apple’s data on China Telecom servers would be stored offshore and not made available to China Telecom… Jeremy Goldkorn, director of, a research firm focused on Chinese media, internet and consumers [said], ‘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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, if the data is really, legally out of reach of U.S. court orders, then Apple products are no longer “a danger to China national security,” right?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Chinese state-run media: Apple iPhone a danger to China national security – July 11, 2014


  1. Ok, Apple’s Hong Kong server farm may not be ready yet and the government owned Apple products may need to be stored in China. So Apple rents for a while in China.

    “Apple’s move here makes a lot of economic sense. Instead of renting data center space at a premium, Apple rolls its own infrastructure to save a lot of money. In addition, by building its own space physically close to China, it can improve performance of all those data packets, which will not need to traverse the Pacific from Apple’s U.S. Data Centers.”

    Aside from Hong Kong, I would not be shocked to hear Apple is building another server farm elsewhere in or near China.

    Note: (Google said it chose Hong Kong as a Data Center location for the following reasons:)
    “Hong Kong offers an ideal combination of reliable energy infrastructure, a skilled workforce and a location right in the center of Asia, which has made it a trading powerhouse and a great place to provide services to our users around the region and globe. As with all of our facilities around the world, we chose Hong Kong following a thorough and rigorous site selection process, taking many technical and other considerations into account, including location, infrastructure, workforce, reasonable business regulations and cost.”

    1. Hong Kong won’t help much the mainland Apple users. I have 94Mb fiber connection in Shenzhen and to Hong Kong which is couple of km away it’s logs only 2-4Mb. We are using PCs to do video editing just because it’s not possible to download (update) the 2GB iMovie app. There are so many things wrong with Apple iCloud in China, it’s good that at least the China based accounts will now work better.

      My old company made a decision to move their headquarters away from Shanghai to Hong Kong. Their partner in crime is moving to Singapore. It is starting look like that many companies are moving out from China and so are the richer Chinese of which 64% is either moving or thinking of moving. What is left is the poor Chinese and they don’t have money to buy the foreign brands, even those are made in China.

      Apple really needs their own servers in China to succeed. My workmate is going to HK tomorrow to update his ‘new’ MBP software, which he bought yesterday, no updates on it for over a year. The previous owner said it would take 27h to download them so she had not bothered.

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