A hot potato: It’s no secret that Russia is cracking down on companies that don’t store details of local users within the country. Many firms won’t or can’t agree to this rule, but Apple is no longer one of them.
According to Bloomberg, a recent filing with the Russian government last month shows that Apple users in the region have data including name, delivery address, email address, and phone number stored on servers within the nation’s borders. The company said it collects the information for customer service and to send users information on new products.
The report doesn’t mention if more personal information is also stored, such as photos, contacts, or messages, so iCloud data doesn’t appear to be on the Russia-based servers. However, Apple does keep details about its Russian employees within the country, including passport numbers, place and time of issuance, addresses, history of work valuations and income details.
Back in 2014, Russia enacted a new law requiring all internet companies conducting business in the country to store Russian citizens’ personal info in local data centers. As the rule is supposedly to fight terrorism, the government could demand that compliant firms decrypt the data and hand it over.
Tim Cook has long been a vocal advocate of user privacy—as shown by the ad Apple took out at CES. But the CEO said local laws must be observed, which is why the company already stores local users' iCloud keys on regional servers in China. He stressed that the information is protected by Apple encryption, though it’s unclear how much of a deterrent that would be for Russian authorities.
Last month, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications regulator, said it has begun “administrative proceedings” against Facebook and Twitter for their failure to keep users’ data in the country. This follows Moscow’s November plans to clamp down on tech firms who don’t obey the law.