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Apple has started requiring new apps to show proof of a Chinese government license in order to be listed on the China App Store, as the company joins rival app stores that adopted the policy years earlier to meet tightening state regulations (via Reuters).

iOS-App-Store-General-Feature-Dock.jpg

Apple last Friday began requiring an "internet content provider (ICP) filing" from developers when they submit new apps to be published on the local App Store. An ICP filing is the state registration system required for websites to operate legally in China.

To get the license, developers must have a company in China or work with a local publisher, a requirement that has stymied take-up by a large number of foreign apps.

Most local app stores including those operated by Tencent and Huawei have adopted the filing since at least 2017, so Apple is simply falling in line with a recently updated policy that is already established in China's software publishing industry.

China already blocks the websites of many popular western social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, but iPhone users in China have been able to download their apps from Apple's ‌App Store‌ by using unauthorized VPN services that connect them to an internet server outside the country.

Under new rules issued in July by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Apple will no longer be able to offer such apps in its China ‌App Store‌ from next July unless the app operators are registered with the government.

Chinese officials last week reportedly told Apple staff that the company must strictly implement the rules banning unregistered foreign apps, thereby closing the loophole allowing Chinese ‌iPhone‌ users to download them. Apple was said to have been told that the new rules are needed to crack down on online scams, pornography, and the circulation of information that violates China's censorship rules.

Most foreign app operators are unlikely to register with the Chinese government, because doing so would force them to comply with data transfer and censorship requirements. This will leave Apple with no choice but to remove them or face legal sanctions.

Article Link: Apple Adopts Tighter Chinese App Store Rules, Closing Foreign App Loophole
 
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Sophisticatednut

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🤪Oh look at that…. If only Apple users had the ability to circumvent the AppStore to install apps. But the AppStore is so secure and safe from any government censorship. Apple would only remove things breaking their terms of service. Pinky promise 🤪

Imagine if side loading was possible how the government would use it to prevent freedom somehow 🤪
 
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Skyscraperfan

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Oct 13, 2021
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In other instances Apple always tried to avoid censorship or surveillance powers that it could be forced by authorities to use. I hope that will teach them a lesson now.

Imagine they had really implemented that child abuse filter they had planned. Of course China (an the US) would have pressured to use that filter for other purposes.

The UK is not any better than China though. They want messenger apps to break encryption in order to read messages of potential criminals. So the west is not a very good role model when it comes to consumer rights.
 

Sophisticatednut

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May 2, 2021
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Ah yes. Apple defending user and human government rights against their respective governments. Users*

*Unless government money are too lucrative to refuse abandon moral principles
Oh yes absolutely, didn’t you know how strong Apple are on government spying on their user? They would never allow back doors

Sure they will remove any app on their store, and mandate anything sold must give all their data to the government or be removed. Store iCloud and iMessage on government servers.

You know, why have a back door when the front door is so much easier to open up.

/super sarcasm

It’s quite insane people defending this
 

indychris

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Apr 19, 2010
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I love it when I see Tim implementing the whole ‘Think Different’ ideal!

It’s like it’s 1984 Part Deux. Maybe their financial dept has nice little signs hanging around reminding the Apple peeps that the way to operate in the black is to give into the red!
 

rp100

macrumors regular
Sep 15, 2016
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Tim Cook’s primary responsibility is to Apple shareholders as well as maximizing shareholder value and profits. Standard capitalism. Apple has already made huge investments in China and the revenue stream is an important part of their business. Jeopardizing revenue and market share would not be interpreted as a beneficial or profitable action.

When Apple entered into the China market they made a choice to play by the rules which govern that state. Corporate or individual ideals were no longer the highest authority of decision making.

People replay the virtue signaling and outrage every time Apple makes a change to comply with Chinese law. Unless Apple wants to become an idealist and push back against Chinese authorities or intentionally pull out of that market, Apple will continue to abide by the rules. How all of that affects your purchasing decisions is for you and you alone to decide.
 

neuropsychguy

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Sep 29, 2008
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Ah yes. Apple defending user and human rights against their respective governments.*

*Unless government money are too lucrative to refuse.
So is it best to pull out of the country or remain there and be part of the process working towards improving human rights? There are no easy answers with a situation like this. If Apple doesn't comply, it's possible China moves forward with stricter controls. It's also possible they move forward with seizing Apple's assets in China (although a ban would be more likely). That would cause a huge uproar but it's always something on the table.

Apple is moving towards less dependence on China but it takes time. Maybe there are many things Apple "should" do, but again, there are no easy answers or quick solutions.
 
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CarAnalogy

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Jun 9, 2021
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Ah yes. Apple defending user and human rights against their respective governments.*

*Unless government money are too lucrative to refuse.

This isn’t just about money. China and Russia require foreign companies to have people in country, people who can be “arrested” if the foreign company steps out of line. It’s not Apple’s responsibility to try to change China by single-handedly defying their laws.

To be clear I think what China is doing is absolutely abhorrent but I don’t know what else Apple is supposed to do here. They defied it as best they could for as long as they could.
 

djgamble

macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2006
988
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You can of course use a browser to do all that outside China.
Yes what's with people feeling they NEED an app for every website these days?

I don't get it. If anything, I actively avoid 'apps for websites'. Like sure if a standalone app is needed for something I'll download it, but why use an app as a wrapper for a website? I want the rich experience (which is why the iPhone has pinch gestures and the like in the first place - so that you don't have to download apps that are clunky, stripped down versions of websites).
 

CarAnalogy

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Jun 9, 2021
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Is iMessage available in China? I assume it’s not end to end encrypted for Chinese users if that is the case? What about iCloud Drive?

China requires the servers providing iMessage to users in China be located in China, where the Chinese government has administrative access. The servers control key distribution. So even if it is end to end encrypted, China can invisibly add itself to any conversation. This is a known issue and one reason Apple is (supposedly, eventually) releasing iMessage Key Verification.
 
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