Apple Inc's decision to let a Chinese company operate its iCloud services in the Chinese mainland will not affect foreign users because the Chinese facility will only store the data of local users, the U.S. company said on Wednesday.
Data management company Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co (GCBD) will start to operate Apple's iCloud service in the mainland as of February 28, according to a statement Apple released on its official website on Wednesday.
All the documents, including photos, videos, manuscripts and backups the users have uploaded to their iCloud accounts will be restricted by the new terms and conditions of GCBD by then, the statement said.
The move is the result of cooperation agreed in July 2017, when Apple announced that it would set up its first data center in China, in partnership with GCBD, an enterprise owned by Guizhou's provincial government in Southwest China.
Following the announcement of the cooperation in July, U.S. media outlets have reported rising concerns among U.S. iCloud users that their data might be stored in the facility and could be exposed to Chinese companies and governments.
In an apparent move to ease earlier concerns over data being stored in China, Apple made it clear that the arrangement will only affect Chinese users.
"We hope to keep these changes transparent to our customers," Apple was quoted as saying by a report by the People's Daily on Monday.
It added that "users who set their Apple ID country as the Chinese mainland will be informed via emails and push notifications in the following seven weeks."
Apple further noted that the arrangement would improve the speed and reliability of iCloud service in China and comply with China's regulations and that users could choose to close their accounts if they are not willing to use the iCloud service operated by GCBD.
As of February 28, if users have not yet been recorded as accepting or viewing the notification sent by Apple, their accounts will be deactivated instead of being transferred to GCBD, and the data stored in their iCloud will not be deleted at the time, Apple added.