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January 11, 2018

Apple to open $1bn data centre in China

Tech giant to transfer customer iCloud data domestically to comply with new regulations

By Arun Kakar

Apple has notified Chinese customers that it will hand over the iCloud data service to a $1bn GCBD (Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data) managed data centre in Guizhou province.

The transition will begin on February 28, making it one of the first tech giants to move its data operations domestically in order to comply with Chinese regulations.

“Our partnership with GCBD will allow us improve the speed and reliability of our iCloud services products while also complying with newly passed regulations that cloud services be operated by Chinese companies,” a spokesman told 9to5Mac. GCBD is supervised by the Board of Supervisors of state-owned enterprises.

Apple assured its customers that its data will remain ‘secure and private,’ and said it will use the same encryption standards as current US policy. It claims that the partnership with GCBD will allow it to improve the reliability and speed of the iCloud service.

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China passed a law last year requiring companies to store users’ data in the country, and passed a raft of legislation including a requirement that users of messaging apps register their real identities.

Apple already holds some customer data of its Chinese customers locally and first moved to a plant operated by Chinese Telecom in 2014. Yesterday’s move goes a step further by placing the sales management and government data requests in the hands of a Chinese partner.

The Chinese market accounts for 21% of Apple’s global sales, and it has heavily invested in the country. It gained market share after launching the iPhone X, and came under fire last year when it agreed to remove VPN apps from the Chinese app store.

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Amazon, IBM and Microsoft have also announced data partnerships with Chinese cloud computing services to adhere to government rules.

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