Apple to store Chinese iCloud accounts and keep cryptography keys in China starting February 28th

Apple to store Chinese iCloud accounts and keep cryptography keys in China starting February 28th
A local law in China is forcing Apple to host Chinese users' iCloud accounts in a data center inside China starting on February 28th. Besides keeping these accounts domestically in China, Apple will also be storing in the country the cryptographic keys needed to unlock them. Previously, both the accounts and the keys were held in the U.S., which meant that Chinese authorities needing to unlock a Chinese iCloud account had to go through the U.S. legal system.

Once these accounts and the keys start to be held in China on February 28th, the Chinese government and law enforcement will be able to go through their own courts and legal system when seeking to obtain information stored in iCloud. That will allow them more access than previously received through the U.S. courts. To comply with China's laws that force Apple to host iCloud data generated in China, and the keys that unlock the accounts, the company opened a data center in the country through a joint-venture with state-owned firm Guizhou - Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd. The latter has ties to China's government and Communist Party.

Apple says that agreeing to the joint venture doesn't mean that China will have a backdoor into user's data. The encryption keys will be held by Apple even though Chinese user's iCloud accounts will include the name of Apple's partner in the country. But those living in China need to beware. In the country, police can issue their own warrants and do not need the court to issue them. Any Chinese authority with a legal order will be able to force Apple to turn over information stored in an iCloud account beginning at the end of this month.

Apple says that 99.9% of iCloud users in the country have signed a revised Terms of Service page, allowing the new data center to take over their accounts. Only those who select China as their country when setting up an Apple device are affected. Those who select Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan are not covered by the law.

Apple says that from the middle of 2013 to the middle of 2017, it received 176 requests from Chinese authorities for iCloud account information stored in the U.S. Apple turned over none of the requested info. That compares to requests for data from U.S. customers' iCloud accounts. In those situations, Apple has turned over information on 2,366 out of 8,475 government requests.

source: Reuters

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13 Comments

1. afrohoxha

Posts: 204; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

"Apple says that 99.9% of iCloud users in the country have signed a revised Terms of Service page, allowing the new data center to take over their accounts. " I don't think they had another choice, a safe one at least.

2. Awalker

Posts: 1958; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Or like most people they accepted the terms without reading it.

6. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1293; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

They literally had no choice but to accept if they wanted to use or keep using iCloud.

3. GreenMan

Posts: 2692; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

I quote: "Apple has turned over information on 2,366 out of 8,475 government requests." End quote. And people clamour about the so called 'privacy' of Apple iMessage and iCloud etc. Same goes to the 'security' of Blackberry Messenger and its other cloud services. The thing is, in this day and age; nothing stored on someone else's server should be considered 'safe' unless the data is heavily encrypted and YOU have those encryption keys, which is the case with What'sApp and Telegram. Even if Facebook itself want to view the texts shared on What'sApp, it just can't because it just doesn't have access to the encryotion keys because the user's device has those. In any case, I'm not aware of a cloud storage service that allows end to end encryption. Best to locally store your important data. Oh well, G'Day!

4. Leo_MC

Posts: 6301; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

In US (as in EU) Apple only provides info based on a COURT ORDER; privacy should not be used in order to prevent the justice. PS: Facebook had applied to Whatsapp the encryption system that Apple was already been using in iMessage ;).

10. meanestgenius

Posts: 21323; Member since: May 28, 2014

https://gizmodo.com/why-you-should-stop-using-telegram-right-now-1782557415 https://medium.com/@keivan/telegram-not-as-secure-as-you-might-think-19345976edad If you really think Telegram is as secure as you think it is, you’re fooling yourself. And if you really think that Facebook doesn’t have access to your messages on WhatsApp, a messaging client that they now own, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. I’ll even give you a really good deal, too.

11. Podrick

Posts: 1283; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Agreed. Its more likely that I will earn more money than Bill Gates by selling flowers for a year than some Facebook owned online service to respect user's privacy.

13. meanestgenius

Posts: 21323; Member since: May 28, 2014

Exactly. And anyone that thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.

9. sissy246

Posts: 6950; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I trust no one when it come to privacy. I don't see how anyone can trust someone just because they say they will never give out your info.

12. lyndon420

Posts: 6439; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Privacy and free speech held hands and jumped off a cliff.

14. Subie

Posts: 2269; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Yup, but that already happened in China following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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