Chinese crackdown on Apple Store hits holy book apps, Audible
Amazon’s Audible audiobook service and phone apps for reading the holy books of Islam and Christianity have disappeared from the Apple Store in mainland China, the latest examples of the impact of the country’s tightened rules on people. Internet businesses.
Audible said Friday it pulled its app from the Apple Store in mainland China last month “due to licensing requirements.”
The makers of apps for reading and listening to the Quran and the Bible say their apps have also been removed from the China-based Apple store at the behest of the government.
Apple did not return requests for comment on Friday. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States declined to talk about specific app withdrawals, but said the Chinese government “has always encouraged and supported the development of the Internet.”
âAt the same time, China’s Internet development must also comply with Chinese laws and regulations,â said an emailed statement from Liu Pengyu.
The Chinese government has long sought to control the flow of information online, but is increasingly stepping up its enforcement of the internet industry in other ways, making it difficult to determine the causes for the removal of a particular app.
Chinese regulators have sought this year to tighten data privacy restrictions and limit the amount of time children can play video games. They also have greater control over the algorithms used by tech companies to personalize and recommend content.
The popular American language learning app Duolingo disappeared from Apple’s Chinese store over the summer, as did many video game apps. What seems to tie Audible to religious apps is that all of them have recently been made aware of the licensing requirements for published content.
Pakistan Data Management Services, which makes the Quran Majeed app, said it was waiting for more information from the Chinese internet authority on how it can be restored. The app has nearly one million users in China and around 40 million worldwide, the Karachi-based company said.
Those who had previously downloaded the app can still use it, said Hasan Shafiq Ahmed, the company’s head of growth and relationships.
âWe are looking to determine what documentation is needed to get approval from Chinese authorities so that the app can be restored,â he said in an email.
The maker of a Bible app said it removed it from the Apple Store in China after learning from Apple’s App Store review process that it needed special permission to distribute an application with “book or magazine content”. Olive Tree Bible Software, based in Spokane, Wash., Said it is currently reviewing the conditions for obtaining the necessary license “in the hope that we can restore our app to the Chinese App Store and continue to distribute the Bible in the whole world”.
The Council on US-Islamic Relations condemned Apple’s actions, saying the company allows China’s religious persecution of Muslims and others.
“This decision must be overturned,” said a statement from CAIR’s deputy national director, Edward Ahmed Mitchell. âIf American businesses don’t develop a backbone and stand up to China right now, they risk spending the next century submitting to the whims of a fascist superpower. “
The deletions were first detected this week by the monitoring website AppleCensorship, which monitors the Apple App Store to detect when apps have been blocked, particularly in China and other authoritarian-government countries. .
This week, Microsoft announced that it would shut down its main LinkedIn service in China later this year, citing a “significantly more difficult operating environment and stricter compliance requirements in China.”
Unlike LinkedIn, which has offered a specialized Chinese service since 2014, Audible, owned by Amazon, said it does not have a dedicated customer service department in China.