Apple: iCloud Services in China to be Run by GCBD

Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) will be responsible for iCloud operations on the Chinese mainland from February 28, a spokesperson for Apple said.

From that day on, GCBD will have a legal and financial relationship with iCloud users on the Chinese mainland.

“For these changes, we want to be transparent to our customers,” Apple said in an interview with People’s Daily. Apple said it would alert users via email and notifications within seven weeks of January 10.

Users whose Apple ID is associated with China as their home country or region will be affected by this change.

On July 12, 2017, the Guizhou Provincial Government and Apple signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement. Apple authorized GCBD as the only partner operating its iCloud service on the Chinese mainland. On the Chinese mainland, Apple will provide its iCloud services under the Apple and GCBD double brand.

“The cooperation with GCBD will enable us to further enhance our speed and improve the reliability of iCloud. It also conforms to China’s new rules that cloud services must be operated by a local business,” Apple said.

GCBD said it is very proud to partner with Apple and it looks forward to the project. GCBD and Apple will be committed to improving user experience so as to achieve mutual benefit. At the same time, the two sides will further explore the possibility of deepening cooperation.

Apple said users influenced by the change will receive a notice. The iCloud system must ensure each user has viewed or received at least one notice, and then the user’s service change will be complete. By February 28, if the users have not read or accepted the related notice from Apple, their account will not be moved to GCBD and will be suspended. Data in iCloud will be stored in iCloud and will not be lost. If the user wants to resume iCloud use after February 28, he or she must accept new terms and conditions to ensure that the account is reactivated and moved to GCBD.

“Apple has a strong data privacy and security protection mechanism and will not create a back door in any of our systems,” the company said in a statement.

Apple said it would collaborate with GCBD and only respond to data requests that comply with legal procedures. And for devices protected by keys, such as iPhones or iPads, Apple cannot unlock them.

According to Apple’s cooperation agreement with the Guizhou Government signed last July, GCBD will run a national data center, which supports the iCloud service. The main data center will be in Guian New District, with an investment of up to $1 billion. Apple will register the entity in Guian New District and will jointly build the main data center with GCBD. The main data center will be run by GCBD and supported by Apple.

The main data center for iCloud will be Apple’s first data center in China, which will be used to store data for Apple users in China. When built and put into use, Chinese users can upload and download data without having to travel long distances between the US and China. It may speed up and reduce delays.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said, “Chinese users like to use iCloud to securely store photos, videos, documents and apps, and they are used to keeping all equipment updated. I believe the new cooperation will improve user’s experience in China by reducing delays and improving reliability.”

Guizhou-Cloud Big Data was established in November, 2014 with approval from the Guizhou Provincial Government. Its registered capital is 235 million yuan, with Guizhou Big Data Development Administration Bureau as the sponsor and the SOE Supervisory Board of as supervisor.

This article by Zhang Yixuan originally appeared in People’s Daily and was translated by Pandaily.