Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has urged journalists using Apple iCloud China to migrate their account to another geographic region or close their accounts within the month.

Control of China’s iCloud will be transferred to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) — a company linked to the Guizhou government — on February 28. The data will become accessible to the Chinese state, the French NGO said.

Photo: Screenshot.

iCloud stores the personal data of users including contacts, photos, email, internet history, location data, passwords, and more. RSF warns that this could pose dangers to the security of both journalists and their sources.

It also said that there is a clause in the iCloud user agreement which states Apple and GCBD can assess all user data. The precedent set by Apple could encourage Beijing to seek concessions from companies such as Google and Facebook — posing more dangers to those who defend press freedom, it added.

The watchdog also slammed Apple’s “readiness to accommodate China’s authoritarian regime.”

“Apple promises that it will never give governments a backdoor to content, but there is no way of being sure about this,” Head of RSF’s East Asia bureau Cédric Alviani said.

“Knowing the Chinese government’s determination and the extent of the means of pressure at its disposal, it will end up getting its way sooner or later, if it hasn’t already.”

HKFP has contacted Apple for comment.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.