Apple Begins Storing Users’ Data on Servers in China

15-Aug-2014

Originally from Re/cod Daily — Apple has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China, marking the first time the tech giant is storing user data on Chinese soil.

The storage of user data in China represents a departure from the policies of some technology companies, notably Google, which has long refused to build data centers in China due to censorship and privacy concerns.

Apple said the move was part of an effort to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service, which lets users store pictures, e-mail and other data. Positioning data centers as close to customers as possible means faster service.

The data will be kept on servers provided by China Telecom, the country’s third-largest wireless carrier, Apple said in a statement on Friday.

Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously,” it said. “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.”

A source with knowledge of the situation said the encryption keys for Apple’s data on China Telecom servers would be stored offshore and not made available to China Telecom.

Apple has said it has devised encryption systems for services such as iMessage that even Apple itself cannot unlock. But some experts expressed skepticism that Apple would be able to withhold user data in the event of a government request.

“If they’re 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,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.com, a research firm focused on Chinese media, internet and consumers.

“On the other hand if they don’t store Chinese user data on a Chinese server they’re basically risking a crackdown from the authorities.”

Goldkorn added that data stored in the United States is subject to similar U.S. regulations where the government can use court orders to demand private data.

A spokesman for China Telecom declined to comment.

With its rising middle class, China has become an increasingly important market for Apple. Sales of the iPhone rose almost 50 percent in China in the three months ended June and salvaged an otherwise lackluster quarter for the Cupertino company.

Other companies have opted not to situate servers in China, where they would have to comply with local laws.

Google publicly abandoned China in 2010 and moved its services, including its search engine, to Hong Kong-based servers after refusing to comply with Chinese government censorship. Microsoft also does not have servers for its email service in China.

Yahoo came under criticism in 2005 after it handed to Chinese authorities emails that led to the imprisonment of Shi Tao, a journalist who obtained and leaked an internal censorship order the government had sent Chinese media.

“China doesn’t want any digital service offered to Chinese people to be hosted offshore,” said Goldkorn. “I suppose it was inevitable that Apple had to comply if they were using foreign servers for Chinese user data.”

In July, Apple’s iPhone was branded a danger to China’s national security by state media, because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. Apple denied tracking user locations.

Apple has frequently come under fire from Chinese state media, which accused the company of providing user data to U.S. intelligence agencies and have called for “severe punishment.”

The U.S. company has strongly denied working with any government agencies to create back doors into its products or servers. “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will,” Apple has previously stated.

News of the China Telecom deal emerged Thursday after a local government website in the southeastern province of Fujian announced that iCloud had migrated to China Telecom’s servers after 15 months of rigorous testing and review. The website article is no longer available on the site.

(Reporting by Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten; additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; editing by Ryan Woo and Sophie Walker.)

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UHDTV Kickoff – maybe a little earlY?

8/06/2014 04:15:00 PM Eastern

Minneapolis — Best Buy, in concert with LG, Samsung and Sony, will kick off a comprehensive 13-week consumer awareness campaign to help drive Ultra HD TV adoption beginning this Saturday.

Additional vendors are expected to join the Ultra HD initiative in the coming weeks.

The effort, dubbed “Believing Begins Here,” was developed with input from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and will include Best Buy-driven TV ads, digital marketing, buyers’ guides and educational videos.

But the centerpiece of the program will be in-store demonstrations at 50 Best Buy locations in 11 major markets nationwide, to be held each Saturday from Aug. 9 through Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Initially, field market teams from LG, Samsung and Sony will variously conduct the interactive tutorials, along with specially trained Blueshirt associates.

Best Buy TV merchant director Luke Motschenbacher said a key focus of the demos will be the ability of the Ultra HD sets to up-scale 1080p content to near 4K quality. “We’re educating customers to the fact that they can buy with confidence now,” he told TWICE, and have a future-proof product in place when native content becomes more plentiful.

The Saturday sessions will be complemented by a running schedule of manufacturer promotions and in-store sweepstakes. The latter will include prizes ranging from Best Buy gift cards to an LG, Samsung or Sony 55-inch Ultra HD TV replete with installation and a Geek Squad service plan.

Motschenbacher said the campaign leverages Best Buy’s recently remodeled home theater departments, which number 500 Samsung A/V shops, 350 Sony Experience sections and separate showcase displays for LG models, along with soundbar and loudspeaker listening stations and a dedicated accessories area.

Additional vendors are expected to join the program by early fall, he said.

According to Best Buy spokeswoman Lisa Hawks, the campaign’s participants are investing in the program jointly, and utilized guidelines developed by a CEA communications working group to help present a consistent consumer message.

CEA has been an active proponent of Ultra HD, and has worked behind the scenes and in the field to educate both consumers and retailers about the benefits of the advanced display technology. Jeff Joseph, CEA’s communications and strategic relationships senior VP, lauded Best Buy for lending its national footprint to the effort, and said the added participation of multiple manufacturers “underscores the industry’s commitment to the category” and the momentum it’s enjoying.

Hawks said the campaign’s launch was timed to the start of the football season, with college games beginning Aug. 28 and the NFL season kicking off on Sept. 4. Targeted markets include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

She added that the awareness initiative, in combination with “dramatic” price drops, will help make Ultra HD TV a key category for the football and holiday seasons.

Indeed, Stephen Baker, industry analysis VP for the NPD Group, observed during TWICE’s recent “Christmas In July” webinar that Ultra HD TV is already poised to exceed holiday expectations. “We have no doubts that UHD/4K will be extremely successful and add significant revenue to a TV market under pressure,” he wrote in a follow-up blog.

– See more at: http://www.twice.com/news/retail/exclusive-best-buy-vendors-launch-ultra-hd-awareness-campaign/49801#sthash.1bYiGu16.dpuf

 

Facebook Messenger APP | out-of-control??

Giving permission that’s way outside consciousness.  How many other APPS allow this and you don’t even know it?

From a post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-fiorella/the-insidiousness-of-face_b_4365645.html

********* a synopsis  ***********

If you’re one of those 1,000,000,000 people who have downloaded this app, take a moment to read the following. Word for word, here are a few of the most aggressive app permission you’ve accepted.

  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.
  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.
  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.
  • Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.
  • Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.

“….the only privacy you have is that which is kept only in your mind” – k paulsen 2014