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Apple pulls censorship-circumventing iOS app from Chinese App Store

updated 05:04 pm EST, Fri December 13, 2013

Company criticized for bowing to government pressure

Apple has reportedly pulled a censorship-circumventing app from the Chinese iOS App Store. The app, titled FreeWeibo and developed through collaboration with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, is said to have worked around the government's censorship filters for content posted on the Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo.

The app is believed to have been removed due to pressure from the Chinese government, according to a Agence France-Presse report that was spotted by AppleInsider. Apple's app review board allegedly told the developer that its app was pulled because it violates local laws.

Apple has been criticized for allegedly bowing to government pressure rather than maintaining consistent App Store content guidelines. The company removed several other titles from the Chinese App Store in recent months, including an app with banned books and a utility that bypassed the government's Internet firewall.

"Apple's image of being a hip and trendy company is eroding -- the brand will hold little cachet for the consumer because of actions like these and in the long run that means less Apple devices will be sold," said a FreeWeibo co-founder who goes by the pseudonym Charlie Smith. "Apple makes it impossible for apps concerned with issues such as free speech or human rights to find a home in the Chinese App store."

by MacNN Staff



  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-31-07

    This is not Apple's fault. And I'm not sure Apple has enough cachet with the Chinese government to pressure them into changing their policy. It certainly isn't a company's role to overtly challenge it esp. when it has some influence on the people already where it is now.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I feel for the Chinese people having to suffer with censorship and other losses of liberty, but Apple (and Google, and Coca-Cola and everyone else who does business there) have to obey local laws. You can have a debate about whether these companies should be in China at all if you want, but if they are there they have to play by the same rules as local companies.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Keep in mind that this is Apple, a company that's made a big deal of "thinking different," the one who made ads claiming: "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. - Apple Inc."

    If that's not hypocrisy, saying one thing and doing another, then what is?

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08


    Apple is a publicly-owned company.

    China is a country.

    Apple certainly didn't mean taking a stand against communism or censorship by assisting citizens within the borders of a foreign country in breaking their local laws with that quote from a nearly two-decade-old advertisement campaign.

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