Update: Apple confirmed the use of China Telecom servers in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.
But the company said Friday in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that all data stored is encrypted, meaning China Telecom won’t have access to its content.
“Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously. We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China,” it said.
Apple has begun using Chinese data centers to store iCloud data for local Apple customers, the first time Apple has used mainland China for iCloud account and information storage. On a municipal government website, Fuzhuo City Telecom said that ‘Apple China has completed the iCloud data dump into China Telecom’s cloud services’. The post has since been taken down from the government site, however.
By moving the site closer to the country itself, reliability, performance and uptime should be maximised for Chinese Apple users. The statement also notes that uptime availability should be at the 99.99% level. The site will end up taking responsibility for hundreds of petabytes of user data.
Apple’s use of localized cloud resources to supplement its own facilities is an interesting strategy and may be part of its larger effort to run its own CDN’s, which rely on proximity for low-ping situations. In the United States, for example, Apple has negotiated deals with Comcast for direct interconnect between its servers and the Comcast network.
There is speculation that a potential consequence that moving data into China will make it easier for government to spy on users’ private data, due to the change in regional laws. We have reached out to Apple for comment on this matter.