The Chinese parliament has officially approved new electronic security legislation, due to go into effect in June 2017, which could force companies like Apple to make changes to how they handle their data infrastructure — particularly if they're concerned about privacy.
"Critical information infrastructure operators" must now store both personal and business data on Chinese servers, according to the new law, detailed by Reuters. While Apple has been storing some user data on Chinese servers since 2014, the company may now have little choice but to do so.
More seriously, those operators will now have to provide "technical support" to security agencies, and pass security reviews. The law also makes it illegal to use the internet to "damage national unity," providing official cover for pursuing dissidents.
Reuters noted that some of the law's provisions were already effective in practice, but that their codification comes alongside President Xi Jinping instituting a crackdown on groups like the media and civil rights lawyers. The Communist Party has been particularly focused on countering "historical nihilism," defined as rejecting the Communist revolution and/or its inevitability, or criticizing its trajectory.
In August, over 40 global business groups petitioned Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to amend some of the more controversial sections of the law.
The legislation could scare some companies away from doing business in China, but many like Apple may not be willing to sacrifice sales to avoid the hassle and potential violations of customer privacy.