China plans a working committee to ‘oversee’ Apple’s iCloud facility

China's Guizhou province, where Apple has set up its first data center in the country, plans to create a working committee chaired by communist party members to oversee the tech giant’s iCloud facility, reports Reuters. The Guizhou government says on its website (www.gzgov.gov.cn) that the iCloud working committee would be made up of around 10 members, such as Guizhou's Executive Vice Governor Qin Rupei, Deputy Secretary-general Ma Ningyu and other officials.

China has begun policing (some would say censoring) the Internet more closely and introduced a new cyber security law on June 1 that imposes tougher controls over data than in Europe and the U.S., including mandating that companies store all data within China and pass security reviews.

China has adopted a controversial cyber security law to counter what Beijing says are growing threats such as hacking and terrorism. The legislation, which took effect in June 2017, says "critical information infrastructure operators" must now store both personal and business data on Chinese servers.

Overseas critics of the law say it threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed “critical.” Rights advocates also say the law will enhance restrictions on China's Internet, already subject to the world's most sophisticated online censorship mechanism, known outside China as the Great Firewall.

More than 40 global business groups — including Apple — petitioned Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in August, urging Beijing to amend what they said were controversial sections of the law. However, Chinese officials said it won’t interfere with foreign business interests.

Still, Apple recently removed upwards of 60 virtual private network (VPN) services from its app store in China.  VPNs allow users to skirt China's "great firewall" that blocks its citizens from accessing many Internet sites, including Facebook and Twitter.  The Free Enterprise Project , a conservative shareholder activist organization has called on Apple and Amazon “to recommit to protecting human rights after both companies recently, and hypocritically, bowed to Chinese government pressure regarding Internet censorship.”