On the surface, the news that "Apple will store user data on servers in China" might send up a few flares.
But the "aha" moment comes when the headline is backed up with detail, and that detail is that only Chinese users will have data stored on Chinese servers.
Digging deeper, we find Apple's rationale for using Chinese data storage centers for Chinese users is based on supporting its soon-to-be-upgraded iCloud service. Apple says using Chinese servers for iCloud customers in China will provide users with faster and more reliable access.
That data includes pictures, emails, files, documents and applications.
Complications, there are a few; but then again, just enough to mention. What about data secrecy? Will China Telecom (CT), the company that will be storing the data, and the Chinese government have access to the data?
No, says Apple. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Apple insisted all data stored is encrypted, and that not even Apple can undo the encryption. Despite that, it defies the rigors of common sense that Apple could get away with that explanation when Beijing comes calling with its demands for access to some of that data.
Furthermore, China Telecom, which is also China's third-largest wireless carrier, is a state-controlled company.
To that, Apple says "Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously."
"We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China. All data stored with our providers is encrypted. China Telecom does not have access to the content."
China Telecom has not said much, only that Apple began storing data on CT servers on Aug. 8, after 15 months of rigorous testing and evaluation, and that CT is Apple's only cloud service provider in China.
There are always politics involved, naturally. China is an ever more vital market for Apple, where iPhone sales rose nearly 50 percent in the second quarter. Recently, Apple's iPhone has been criticized by Chinese state-controlled media, for presenting a "serious national security risk." In the past, Apple has been accused of helping the U.S. government spy on Chinese nationals, and there have been calls for "severe punishment."
With these threats constantly hanging over its head, Apple may be under a lot of pressure to do the Chinese government's bidding, a government that is really ramping up its harassment of foreign tech companies and efforts to clamp down on free speech by its citizens.