Apple recently gave complete power over information of Chinese consumers to a Chinese data management firm – Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) to comply with China’s new cybersecurity law. Apple has added the clause that all Chinese consumers have to understand and agree to the given changes. China’s new law states that all foreign companies need to store all their data regarding citizens residing in mainland China within China itself. Apple having a reputation for propagating privacy and security. The question arises, don’t these tech giants have the ability to fight back? Has profit-motive become enough motive for them to abandon their staunch belief in ethics?
Looking back at the FBI and Apple scandal, Apple faced a similar situation. The FBI finally dropped the request because they found a third-party vendor that could hack into the iPhone 5C without help from Apple. Apple to that request chose to fight back. Consumers are now begging the question, why not fight back now? Because China gives you profit and the FBI didn’t? The truth that can not be ignored is that the FBI is not a lucrative market of 1.3 billion.
“The fragmentation of the internet all over the world is becoming an increasing problem due to geopolitics , privacy issues, cyber crime, states wanting to protect their socio-economic make up of the nation.”-Cyrus Mewawalla speaking to CNBC.
Looking at the issue closely, it is easy to point out that this issue between China and America is part of a bigger technology trade war with both countries trying to be the strongest with a huge factor being tech. A fight to become the bigger economy also seems to be affecting the decision as well as China’s want to keep track of their citizens. With the Trump administration, getting harder on Chinese acquisitions of US companies on national security grounds, China is also fighting back with a national security issue.
Apple also came under fire for withdrawing Apple News as a feature available to Chinese consumers and also removing VPN apps from the Chinese App Store. It seems that western tech companies will go to crazy lengths to please authotharian states. Consumers point out the obvious- Your profit is obviously more important than my privacy, despite what your website says.
With Europe introducing GDPR to give you more privacy, China seems to be going in the other direction leaving the world dealing with the internet in different ways to suit their countries ethics and wants.
“The simple fact is that once the encryption keys are stored on Chinese servers, they will be easier for Chinese authorities to access — with or without legal requests,” says Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China.
Now, China is Apple’s third largest market and growing. The only way it seems to prevent your data from being accessed in China is by not storing it on Chinese servers. Users with a credit card and billing address outside China can use those to register their accounts and keep storing their iCloud data outside China or they can switch off iCloud alltogether.