Apple has now decided to outsource its Chinese iCloud operations to a local firm in southern China starting February 28th. First spotted by 9to5Mac, this move doesn't seem all that surprising because it's been known since last year that Apple announced a partnership with a local firm, but we didn't know exactly when the iPhone maker was planning to move iCloud operations.
The firm Apple has partnered with is called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). The firm is based in Guizhou Province and is overlooked by a board ran by government-owned businesses. In an email sent to mainland Chinese customers, Apple says that this move allows “us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations.”
With the move to partner with local firm on dealing with iCloud operations, it means closer ties with the Chinese government and means of more regulation. Apple has already been known to abide by Chinese regulations. For example, the company last July deleted VPN apps from the App Store that was helping netizens evade Chinese censorship, “because it includes content that is illegal in China.”
If you aren't happy with the move, you are given a choice to entirely close your iCloud account before the February 28th deadline. In February, Apple will begin transferring Chinese iCloud data to GCBD-managed data center in Guizhou. Apple says that it “has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be crated into any of our systems.” So it may be safe to say that your data will be protected.