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Apple Builds Data Center in China, Promises No Backdoors

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Apple on Wednesday announced the establishment of its first China-based data center in an effort to improve its services in the region and comply with recently implemented regulations, but the tech giant has promised not to build any backdoors into its systems.

The new data center is located in China’s Guizhou province, which Apple selected following a “careful study” – the company said it was impressed with the local government’s leadership and its focus on environmental sustainability. Officials from the Guizhou province visited Silicon Valley last year to promote big data opportunities as part of a pilot program.

“In partnership with a local internet services company, Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data, we’re proud of the fact the facility will be fully powered by 100 percent renewable energy like all of our other data centers around the world,” Apple said in a statement sent to SecurityWeek.

"Our Chinese customers love using iCloud to store their photos, videos, documents and apps securely, and to keep them updated across all of their devices. We're committed to continuously improving the user experience, and the addition of this data center will allow us to improve the speed and reliability of our products and services while also complying with newly passed regulations,” Apple added.

The said cybersecurity regulations, adopted last year and implemented on June 1, impose new rules for online services providers. Trade groups opposed the initiative – whose initial version even required companies to submit source code for verification – arguing that it offered an unfair advantage to Chinese businesses.

The new law is largely focused on protecting China’s networks and private user information, and it requires cloud services to be operated by local companies. As a result, Apple has teamed up with government-owned Guizhou-Cloud Big Data to offer its iCloud service.

While some may be concerned about the location of the data center given the Chinese government’s track record, Apple has promised to maintain its strong data privacy and security protections and not create any backdoors into its systems.

Apple’s announcement comes just weeks after Chinese authorities reported uncovering a massive underground operation run by Apple employees who had abused the company’s internal systems to collect and sell customers’ personal details.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.