Apple user data now stored on Chinese servers

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Apple has sparked data security concerns by becoming the first mainstream US tech firm to store user's personal information on Chinese servers.

In a statement, released on Friday, the consumer electronics giant said the move was designed to improve the performance of its cloud services for Chinese customers.

"We have added China Telecom to our list of datacentre providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China," the statement confirmed.

"China Telecom does not have access to the content."

Censorship and privacy concerns have long swayed technology giants against storing data in China.

Microsoft and Google, for instance, refused to use servers in China for their Chinese Gmail and Hotmail users.

Richard Anstey, chief technology officer at security company Intralinks, said: "The concerns over data location are somewhat confused. Where data is stored is far less important than its point of control.

"As long as all data stored in datacentres is defensibly encrypted, with keys residing with the data owners, the logical location can be said to be in the user's country.

"Unencrypted data would only exist in that location, or a location allowed by the owner," he added.

Apple confirmed all data stored with its providers would be encrypted.

However, Jeremy Goldkorn, director of research firm told Reuters Apple would still be expected to hand over data in response to requests from the Chinese government.

"If [Apple is] making out that the data is protected and secure that's a little disingenuous because if they want to operate a business here, that'd have to comply with demands from the authorities."

In the past, Apple has denied complying with government requests for access to data stored on its servers.