Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China this week for a meeting with Vice Premier Ma Kai, according to a report from the state-owned Xinhua News Agency. The news follows reports of a potential attack on Chinese iCloud data first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Cook and Ma discussed user privacy during the meeting, and touched on how Apple and China could work together moving forward. Bloomberg was also able to confirm the meeting through an Apple spokesperson who wouldn’t reveal any other specifics. We have to assume the focus of discussion was the recent iCloud attack, which may have been sponsored by the Chinese government according to a report from watchdog website GreatFire.
Still, there’s something about the entire situation that doesn’t add up. Earlier this year Apple caved to Chinese officials and agreed to let the state-owned China Telecom host its local iCloud data. So, if China wants to hack its citizens’ accounts, it should be able to do so relatively easily and quietly.
Then again, the attackers apparently used a “man in the middle” approach to intercept information before it ever reached iCloud servers, suggesting the hackers don’t have direct access to China Telecom.
It’s possible Apple still encrypts Chinese iCloud data to keep the local government from prying. It’s also possible someone else is behind these recent iCloud attacks altogether. For now, there’s no conclusive information either way.