Running in China requires foreign tech companies to submit to strict government censorship and cybersecurity laws. Just ask Apple. The iPhone maker has been criticized by civil rights activists for following the country’s rules aimed at misunderstanding. Over the past few years, Apple has been accused of allowing Chinese censors to remove a podcast app, a raft of mobile games and a map app used by Hong Kong democracy campaigners. Of concern, several revelations detailing its comfortable relationship with the Chinese administration continue to thrive. A damaging new report that unravels the way local data is managed could create yet another ethical nightmare for the company.
Consistent with executed documents examined by The New York Times, Apple has “ceded control” of its data centers in Guiyang – which will reportedly end next month – and in the Inner Mongolia region by the Chinese government.
The compromises reportedly occurred after a law passed in 2016 requiring all “personal information and vital data” collected in China to remain in the country. Afterwards, Apple allegedly moved the ICloud data of its customers in China from servers located overseas to the network of a state-owned company in China, known as Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). This was done on the advice of the Chinese team, according to Weather, as part of a project known internally as “Golden Gate.” It also allegedly allowed Apple to protect itself from U.S. laws, which prohibit U.S. companies from providing Chinese law enforcement data.
Apple reportedly tricked the head of the Chinese government over encryption, but eventually moved the digital keys that unlock customers ’private information from the U.S. to China. Alarmed Apple execs spoke out time that the move could “risk customers’ data.”
It warned Chinese users of changes as part of new iCloud terms and conditions listing GCBD as a service provider and Apple as “an additional party.” Apple told customers the update was to “improve iCloud services in mainland China and comply with Chinese regulations.”
However, the publication admitted that it found no evidence that the Chinese government had access to the information. However, the underlying issue is that officials can still request data from local companies under the country’s strict surveillance laws – the same rules that are used to justify bans against Huawei of the US and its allies.
Another, arguably larger, concern is the type of encryption tech used by Apple in China. After the Chinese government banned the current iCloud system, Apple allegedly planned to build new security devices for storing data using an older version of iOS and a low-cost hardware originally built for the Apple TV. Needless to say, the dated tech has security experts pointing out that hardware modules pose a minefield in cybersecurity and can be easily broken by hackers.
Apple has denied the allegations made in the report. The company said it designed iCloud security “in such a way that only Apple has control over the encryption keys.” Added to this are some of the documents viewed on time out of date and that Chinese data centers “reflect our latest and most sophisticated protections.” In addition, the company says it keeps all third parties connected from the internal network.
Violating its data management, Apple also continued to actively remove the software in accordance with the instructions of China’s sensors. A time the analysis found that thousands of apps have disappeared from Apple’s App Store over the past several years, more than previously known. They include foreign news services, gay dating and encrypted messaging apps. It also blocked apps about the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism who fled China in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
Apple disputed the numbers time, claiming that some developers have removed their own apps from China. It said that since 2017 70 news apps have been taken down in response to demands by the Chinese government. According to Apple, most of the apps it removes for the Chinese government are gambling -related or pornographic or run without a government license, such as loan services and livestreaming apps.
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