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The official website of the city of Fuzhou, in the People's Republic of China, on Thursday posted a now-retracted statement saying that Apple had completed the transfer of iCloud data to a Jiangxi Province datacenter owned by China Telecom. Apple on Friday then confirmed that it is in fact using China Telecom data centers to store iCloud user data locally.
According to the statement, Apple began the project — which was completed on Aug. 8 — some 15 months ago. There is no word on why the bulletin, first spotted by iCloud.net, was withdrawn.
In a statement to AppleInsider provided Friday, Apple confirmed the earlier leak, saying that the localized servers will improve speed and reliability for its customers.
"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. All data stored with our providers is encrypted, China Telecom does not have access to the content."
Apple's siting of data within mainland Chinese borders may come as a surprise to some, given the company's firm stance on privacy and security. Apple attempted to quash those concerns by revealing that the encryption keys for user data would be stored offshore and would not be available to China Telecom.
The Chinese central government is notoriously invasive, most recently handing down a ruling forcing users of instant messaging services like WeChat to register with their real names and making it illegal to share political information without a license.
"Some people are damaging other people's rights and interests and public security in the name of freedom of speech," one spokesman for China's State Internet Information Office said of the new rules. "Cyberspace cannot become a space full of disorder and hostility," said another. "No country in the world allows dissemination of information of rumors, violence, cheating, sex and terrorism."
On Thursday, AppleInsider attempted to verify that iCloud data was staying within China, but was unable to do so. Analysis of iCloud data transfer from Shanghai saw packets flowing to Singapore, where supposed iCloud partners Microsoft and Amazon operate cloud computing clusters.
Apple had previously been linked to the construction of a new datacenter in Hong Kong — a special administrative region of China that operates under a western-style legal system — but the company is not known to have struck such a deal. Google moved its Chinese operations to the former British colony after clashing with mainland censors.