The Hindu: When Apple Inc begins hosting Chinese users’ iCloud accounts in a new Chinese data centre at the end of this month to comply with new laws there, Chinese authorities will have far easier access to text messages, email and other data stored in the cloud.
That’s because of a change to how the company handles the cryptographic keys needed to unlock an iCloud account. Until now, such keys have always been stored in the United States, meaning that any government or law enforcement authority seeking access to a Chinese iCloud account needed to go through the U.S. legal system.
Storing keys in China
Now, according to Apple, for the first time the company will store the keys for Chinese iCloud accounts in China itself. That means Chinese authorities will no longer have to use the U.S. courts to seek information on iCloud users and can instead use their own legal system to ask Apple to hand over iCloud data for Chinese users, legal experts said.
All of you who have an iPhone…. Goodluck with China at the helm of all of your DATA! Apple just turned Socialist.
Apple will store some iCloud encryption keys in China, raising security concerns https://t.co/RV0IptBhJa via @Verge
— 12y@n E5✞@c1👽 (@rock_paper_fire) February 27, 2018
BOYCOTT THE COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP OF CHINA & ALL APPLE PRODUCTS
Your information on your Apple devices will end up in the hands of a major human rights abuser, the dictatorship of China.https://t.co/qcShoeQPZi@Apple @chinaorgcn @iPhone_News #中国禁闻
— Renaud Be (@BedardRenaud) February 27, 2018
Human rights activists say they fear the authorities could use that power to track down dissidents, citing cases from more than a decade ago in which Yahoo Inc handed over user data that led to arrests and prison sentences for two democracy advocates. Jing Zhao, a human rights activist and Apple shareholder, said he could envisage worse human rights issues arising from Apple handing over iCloud data than occurred in the Yahoo case.
In a statement, Apple said it had to comply with recently introduced Chinese laws that require cloud services offered to Chinese citizens be operated by Chinese companies and that the data be stored in China. It said that while the company’s values don’t change in different parts of the world, it is subject to each country’s laws.
While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful, it said. Apple said it decided it was better to offer iCloud under the new system because discontinuing it would lead to a bad user experience and actually lead to less data privacy and security for its Chinese customers.
28th of Feb 2018 – Apple handed over iCloud operations in China to Guizhou-cloud Big Data industry, a state-run corporate TODAY. pic.twitter.com/rIrgNpVyIT
— Fan Yang (@fanyang444) February 27, 2018
As a result, Apple has established a data centre for Chinese users in a contractual arrangement with state-owned firm Guizhou – Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd. The Guizhou company has close ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.