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Apple to store Chinese iCloud encryption keys on servers in China

Apple Inc. plans to store the keys to iCloud accounts of Chinese users at a data center in China from the end of this month, Reuters reports.

The tech company has put up a data center in China under a contractual agreement with state-owned company Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Co. Ltd.

Apple's move is in line with legislation in China, requiring data from cloud services used by Chinese nationals to be stored locally and operated by Chinese companies.

Apple did say that the joint venture will not give Guizhou-Cloud Big Data the authority to access the encryption keys. However, the transfer to a China-based data center, from the U.S., allows the Chinese government to have easier access to the data given the country's more lenient legal processes, the report said, citing legal experts. Chinese law allows police staff to issue and execute warrants, without the need for a court approval.

Guizhou-Cloud Big Data is said to have close relations with the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, according to the report.

The keys were previously stored in a U.S. data center and Chinese authorities needed approval from the U.S. courts to access the accounts.