Apple shop in China

Apple to open data centre in association with Chinese company

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Apple have announced that it will open its first data centre in China, following the introduction of a cyber-security law requiring Chinese customers’ data to be stored within the country.

According to a statement by Apple, the new centre will enable “strong data privacy and security protections”. There will be no back doors available: means by which organisations (including the Chinese government) could bypass encryption to access the data.

“The addition of this data centre will allow us to improve the speed and reliability of our products and services while also complying with newly passed regulations,” the statement announced.

The recent introduction of a new cyber-security law in China requires companies to store Chinese users’ information within the country. Critics have argued that the laws could damage foreign companies, and leave them vulnerable to interpretation of the loosely worded regulations.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, however, has said that the purpose of the law is to “safeguard [China’s] national cyberspace sovereignty and national security [...] rather than to restrict foreign enterprises”.

In response, several major tech companies, including IBM and Airbnb, formed partnerships with Chinese companies to offer cloud computing services based in the country.

The data centre is a major part of Apple’s $1bn investment in the south-west province of Guizhou. It will be run in collaboration with a Chinese data management company, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data, which was co-founded by the province’s administration. The company will not have access to encryption keys for data stored at the centre.

Some Chinese customers’ data is already stored within the country, although remaining iCloud data will be moved in the next few months to the new centre.

Other tech giants – including Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook – are investing billions of dollars into building data centres around the world, in response to a worldwide move towards greater security and sovereignty of data. Storage within the borders of a country allows governments and customers more control over their data, as well as potentially providing faster services.

In addition to China, the Russian government has embedded into law the requirement for tech companies to store data within the country.

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