Earlier this year, Apple moved iCloud information for its China-based users from U.S. servers to China to comply with a new law passed by the Chinese government. The information in question covers text messages, photos and emails and is being looked over by China Telecom, which just so happens to be owned by the government.
This naturally raises questions about how easily the Chinese government can access user information. The Chinese government has shown a propensity for strict and invasive surveillance practices in the past. If it does have access to user information through China Telecom servers, what’s to stop it from accessing this information?
Chinese consumers have gone online to Weibo (a Chinese social media site) to voice their displeasure with the practice and worries about how easily the government can access their information. There is a possible solution to this problem. Users in China can opt out of local data storage by choosing a different country in their iCloud account, but it’s not clear if this will delete their entire iCloud history.
Apple has been adamant that this is beyond its control and the Chinese law precludes it from having any say in the matter. With China being the biggest market in the world, Apple won’t want to do anything that jeopardizes its access to this lucrative market, so it is making big compromises.