Apple capitulated to demands from the Chinese government by removing several VPNs from its App Store last week. Source: Reuters

Apple announces first Chinese data center to comply with new cybersecurity laws

CHINA will get its very first Apple data center as the California-based company gets serious about complying with the new cybersecurity laws introduced early this month, as well as recent technology developments in the country.

Apple will be working with a local Internet services company, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co. Ltd., reports Reuters, in order to set up a center dedicated to ensuring the quality of their products, and that the company’s other services such as iCloud follow government regulations.

The new facility will be based in the south of China in the province of Guizhou, and will be part of Apple’s planned US$1 billion investment package for the country. This center will make Apple the first foreign firm to announce changes in its services in compliance with China’s new laws, which require foreign firms to store their data within the country’s borders.

Since the announcement of the new cybersecurity laws, which significantly impact foreign firms, many corporations have been lobbying the government for a stay of action, although this has been largely ignored. Some have raised concerns the new laws give China inordinate access to foreign technology and intellectual property.

Chinese authorities have refuted those claims, stating the new rules were not designed to target foreign firms but rather to root out threats of cyber attacks and terrorists.

SEE ALSO: China: Upcoming Cybersecurity Law feeds concerns of foreign firms

Overseas companies are still largely unconvinced though. The new data surveillance and storage rules have been accused as “overly vague”, according to Reuters. It will likely cost companies the burdensome task of overhauling some bits of their frameworks and systems, or  run the risk of being charged for non-compliance.

The new law, introduced in April, would require businesses with over 1,000GB worth of data flows beyond China to submit to annual security spot checks, with rumors that blocks on exporting economic, technological and scientific data are in the works. Those whisperings have struck a chord of panic with overseas companies who worry about being trapped behind the Great Firewall.

Apple’s move strikes a distinctly different flavor, one of quiet and genial acceptance, despite the fact other players such as Amazon and Microsoft already have their own centers in China.

“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 said in a statement to Reuters.

“These regulations require cloud services be operated by Chinese companies so we’re partnering with GCBD to offer iCloud,” it said, referring to its online data storage service. The company said they had strong cybersecurity frameworks in place to protect against hackers.

“No backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” it said.

SEE ALSO: Another VPN forced to close as China plugs gaps in Great Firewall

The Guizhou facility’s announcement follows the announced plans for a similar center in Denmark, the country’s second. The first is due to come online this year.