Apple is moving its Chinese iCloud operations from its own datacenters to a local Chinese company run by the government.
The firm is called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). It’s based in Guizhou Province and supervised by a board ran by government-owned businesses. In emails to mainland Chinese customers, Apple says that the move enables “us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations.”
But there’s also the chance that closer ties with the Chinese government might mean more regulation, which Apple has a record of abiding closely to in the past. Last July, Apple deleted VPN apps from the App Store that had helped netizens evade Chinese censorship, “because it includes content that is illegal in China.” Those who aren’t happy with the move at least have the option of closing their iCloud accounts.
Read into it what you will, but the ties between Apple and the Chinese government are strengthening. One has to wonder how long until Apple has to open up iMessage’s encryption.
It’s interesting to see how Apple resists efforts from the US government quite strongly, yet seems to cave in quickly to any Chinese requests. I wonder about the optics of this.