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Apple opens first China data center to comply with country's cybersecurity rules

Racks of Apple's iCloud servers in Maiden, NC

Apple on Wednesday announced the activation of its first data center in China, which is being operated in cooperation with a local internet firm to ensure compliance with the country's strict cybersecurity laws.

The facility was set up in Guizhou with the help of Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co. Ltd., and represents a portion of Apple's planned $1 billion investment into the province, reports Reuters.

"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 prepared statement. "These regulations require cloud services be operated by Chinese companies so we're partnering with GCBD to offer iCloud."

In June, China ratified new cybersecurity laws that mandate certain data protections for Chinese citizens. Importantly, foreign firms operating within China's borders must store sensitive data on domestic servers, and must likewise pass security reviews before transferring said data out of the country.

Apple was quick to note that its data protection protocols, viewed by some as the industry standard, will not be impacted by China's laws.

"No backdoors will be created into any of our systems," the company said. The comment seemingly addresses fears that Chinese government agencies might use the cybersecurity law as an invitation to engage in snooping activities.

Apple initially began storing encrypted iCloud data on in-country China Telecom servers in 2015. At the time, the company said the move to a localized provider would improve iCloud performance for users living on the Chinese mainland.