In accordance with a local Russian law that requires technology companies to store some user data on servers within the state, new filings reveal that Apple stores some iCloud information on local Russian servers. While the information stored is apparently limited to full name, address, email and phone number, Apple says more information is stored locally from their Russian employees.
Specifically, messages, photos, contacts and documents are not saved locally for average users, however, Russian Apple employees’ records include passport numbers, work and income history, and full address reports.
Complying with such regulation is not new for Apple, as the company was under scrutiny last year for cooperating with a similar law in China.
In an interview with VICE last year, CEO Tim Cook defended moves like these, saying:
We have servers located in many different countries in the world. They are not easier to get data from being in one country versus the next. The key question is how does the encryption process work and who owns the keys if anyone? In most cases for us, you and the receiver own the keys.
Cook continued in the interview:
The way we go into product design is we challenge ourselves to collect as little as possible. We challenge ourselves to make it not identifiable. We don’t read your email, your messages. You are not our product. It’s not the business we’re in.
Ultimately, the company is touting its end-to-end encryption process as the most critical key to Apple’s privacy model, hoping to ease skeptics who fear government snooping on what’s supposedly private information.
As for customers questioning why Apple doesn’t fight against the law, Bloomberg reports that the country threatened to shut down Facebook entirely if they refused to comply in 2017.
The last time China and Russia jointed in the headlines over privacy was in October 2018, when a New York Times report detailed how President Trump’s iPhone was being tapped by the two countries continually.
- Report of iCloud data on servers belonging to state-owned China Telecom causes concern [U]
- Tim Cook says Apple doesn’t take a ‘political stand,’ reaffirms privacy values in Vice interview
- Report: Trump still using his personal iPhone, which allows China and Russia to eavesdrop on his calls