Chinese Apple iCloud accounts are now based in a state-run cloud

“Apple users in China have had their data migrated to a local cloud, run by the Red State’s mobile telecoms provider,” Chris Merriman reports for The Inquirer. “That data is now in the hands of Tianyi, the cloud storage service of China Telecom, in a move has been confirmed both by the company and by Apple.”

“The news will come as a blow to privacy campaigners,” Merriman reports. “Until now, the encryption keys for iCloud had been stored in the US, meaning that Chinese officials had to wrestle with the US legal system for control. Now, in a move said to be in response to orders from the Chinese, the keys have been handed over to Tianyi.”

Merriman reports, “Apple products, and particularly iPhones are seen as status symbols in China, as in much of the world, and so the data is likely to be a rich vein of personal data.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in February:

Apple should immediately make iCloud an opt-in service, rather than opt-out, for Chinese users.

Chinese users should not use iCloud for any data they wish to keep private.

Exit question: Why can’t Chinese citizens be trusted with freedom?

Apple is under fire for moving iCloud data to China; Amnesty International blasts move – February 28, 2018
Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears – February 26, 2018
Apple’s China lesson: Think different, but not too different – February 26, 2018
Apple in talks for first order from a Chinese chipmaker – February 14, 2018
Apple utterly dominates the premium smartphone market in China with 85% share – February 7, 2018
Apple warns users who created Apple IDs overseas on dodging China’s new data law – January 12, 2018
How U.S. iCloud users can ensure their data isn’t migrated to state-owned servers in China – January 11, 2018
Apple sets date to turn over cloud operations to a state-owned data center in China – January 10, 2018
U.S. Senate Republican Marco Rubio hits Tim Cook for kowtowing to China – December 13, 2017
Apple CEO Cook kissed the ring in China because he had no choice – December 4, 2017
Apple CEO Cook in China: Internet must have security, humanity – December 4, 2017
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy blast Apple CEO Tim Cook for removing VPN apps from App Store in China – October 20, 2017
Apple issues statement regarding removal of VPN apps from China App Store – July 31, 2017
Apple removes VPN apps from China App Store – July 29, 2017
Apple sets up China data center to meet new cybersecurity rules – July 12, 2017
Analyst: China iPhone sales are pivotal for Apple – June 26, 2017
In bid to improve censorship, China to summon Apple execs to discuss stricter App Store oversight – April 20, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook named recipient of Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award – February 2, 2017


  1. I like the idea of iCloud an opt-in service. As the article says, if you want privacy set your setting to a country like Germany where unlike China and Apple’s home nation privacy is respected by laws and action.

    1. No, he is the CEO of a company that cannot violate the laws of a country where it wishes to do business. The only alternative was to stop selling iDevices in China and/or refuse to support those that were already there. Breaking Chinese laws would not only subject local Apple employees to potential jail sentence, but also risk most of Apple’s manufacturing capacity. What is your non-hypocritical alternative that would not violate Cook’s duty not to bankrupt the company?

      1. Is that what Chinese law said? Why didn’t Apple just remove iCloud from its devices? Is Apple afraid that Chinese consumers might buy Macs to store their photos and videos locally? What law does that violate?

        Google pulled out of the market entirely for a while. Apple continues to support the communist agenda in order to buoy iCloud profits. As a corporation, Apple doesn’t give a shit about upholding democratic principles, consumers rights, or ethical behavior beyond whatever special deal they can work out with a corrupt government. It’s all about the money.

      2. Unlike under communism, in capitalism it IS all about the money. That’s what any number of posters here have said in opposition to Tim Cook’s alleged SJW tendencies. He is supposed to focus on Apple’s business and ignore irrelevancies like morality. Why is this the one exception?

        In any case, I don’t see a moral dilemma here. Nobody is being forced to use the state-owned servers. Chinese Apple customers have a choice between (a) using iCloud servers that are no more compromised than the Chinese telephone, internet, social media, or postal services, or (b) not using iCloud at all.

        I suspect that anybody who grows up in a totalitarian state has learned how not to express themselves publicly in ways that will lead to suspicion. Those who are concerned about democratic principles or consumer rights keep it to themselves. They don’t commit dangerous ideas even to local storage. Chinese citizens who cannot learn caution are either in jail or have left the country.

        The remaining Chinese users—those who know how to exercise discretion—might appreciate having a choice about whether to use iCloud, rather than being forced to use only local storage. Your solution would force them to accept an iDevice experience that is quite different from that in any other country. That might make you feel good, but what benefit does it have for Chinese consumers?

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