Apple’s iCloud services in mainland China will be operated by a Chinese company from next month, the tech giant has confirmed.
It has contacted customers based in China, advising them to examine new terms and conditions.
They include a clause that both Apple and the Chinese firm will have access to all data stored on iCloud.
Apple said it had made the move to comply with the country’s cloud computing regulations.
iCloud accounts registered outside of China are not affected.
‘Strong data privacy’
The Chinese cyber security rules, introduced in July last year, include a requirement for companies to store all data within China.
The firm, Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data (GCBD), is owned by the Guizhou provincial government in southern China.
Guizhou is where Apple opened a $1bn (£738m) data centre last year to meet the regulations.
iCloud data will be transferred from 28 February, Apple said. Customers living in mainland China who did not want to use iCloud operated by GCBD were given the option to terminate their account.
Apple said the “partnership” with GCBD would allow it to “improve the speed and reliability of our iCloud services products while also complying with newly passed regulations that cloud services be operated by Chinese companies”.
It added that Apple had “strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems”.
However, some on social media have said the step gives Beijing more opportunity to monitor its citizens and others living in the country.
Users typically use iCloud to store data such as documents and photographs.
The move comes after the company was criticised by some last year for removing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) from its App Store in mainland China – software that allowed users to get round government restrictions on internet access.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook defended the action at the time, saying he hoped the move was “temporary”, but adding the firm had to comply with Chinese regulations requiring licenses for VPN sellers.