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First Apple data center in China officially commences operations

Credit: Apple

Apple has officially started operations at its first domestic data center in China over three years after it started building the facility to store customer data within the country's borders.

The data center, located in the southwestern province of Guizhou, commenced operations on Tuesday, local authorities said. The data center will be operated by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) and used to store Chinese customer iCloud data domestically.

According to state-run media outlet XinhuaNet, the data center will "improve Chinese users' experience in terms of access speed and service reliability."

Apple is also planning a second data center in Ulanqab City in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

In 2016, the Chinese government approved a new cybersecurity law that would force Apple to store customer data on local servers. The following year, Apple signed an agreement with the Guizhou government to begin setting up its first data center in the country. Construction on the facility began in March 2019.

U.S. regulations prohibit Apple from handing data over to Chinese authorities. However, as part of its agreements in the country, GCBD is the legal owner of Apple iCloud data in China. That allows Chinese authorities to demand data from the telecom firm, rather than Apple.

While Apple maintains that it is the only one with access to the encryption keys, security experts say that physical access to servers will make it difficult to guarantee that the data isn't being accessed.

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