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What you need to know

  • A New York Times report claims Apple has compromised user privacy in China.
  • The company is refuting the report.

Apple is fighting back against a report that it compromises user privacy in China.

A new report from the New York Times says that Apple has made concessions with the Chinese government that make it "nearly impossible for the company to stop the Chinese government from gaining access" to its user's data.

When Apple moved Chinese user data to local servers, the company promised that the data would be safe and managed with Apple's strict approach to privacy. Today's report says that Apple has "largely ceded control to the Chinese government."

And in its data centers, Apple's compromises have made it nearly impossible for the company to stop the Chinese government from gaining access to the emails, photos, documents, contacts, and locations of millions of Chinese residents, according to the security experts and Apple engineers.

In response to the report, Apple says that it still controls the keys that protect the data of users in China and that the company also isolates its data centers in China from the rest of the iCloud network.

The company said in a statement that it followed the laws in China and did everything it could to keep the data of customers safe. "We have never compromised the security of our users or their data in China or anywhere we operate," the company said.

An Apple spokesman said that the company still controlled the keys that protect the data of its Chinese customers and that Apple used its most advanced encryption technology in China — more advanced than what it used in other countries.

Apple also added that its Chinese data centers "feature our very latest and most sophisticated protections." The company is working up against a June 2021 deadline for storing data on new Chinese data servers, the report says.

Apple has tried to isolate the Chinese servers from the rest of its iCloud network, according to the documents. The Chinese network would be "established, managed, and monitored separately from all other networks, with no means of traversing to other networks out of country." Two Apple engineers said the measure was to prevent security breaches in China from spreading to the rest of Apple's data centers.

You can read the full report at The New York Times.