Apple Removed 805 Apps in China From 2018 To 2019

In Apple’s latest transparency report accounting for the first half of 2019, the iPhone maker said it removed 288 apps from China’s iOS App Store for both legal and policy violations. The Apple Transparency Report goes out twice a year and details requests received from government agencies and private parties worldwide. The report lists government requests to access information on accounts and devices, but the last two reports also include the number of apps Apple removed that period. When it comes to why those apps are removed, though, Apple is tight-lipped. The reports cite two reasons for app removals: Platform violations, which covers gambling apps (gambling is illegal in China), and legal violations, which according to Apple usually means apps with pornography (also illegal in China) and other illegal content.

[…] The total number of apps missing from the App Store because of government censorship is hard to know. GreatFire has used its tool to identify 2,678 apps that aren’t available inside the mainland China App Store. But this number doesn’t paint the full picture. Records of missing apps are only generated when people search for them on the website. And there’s no information on whether apps were taken down because of a government request, a decision from Apple or the app makers’ choice. Many of the apps recorded were never listed on the mainland China App Store. But the list does provide some insight, like the fact that the 149 unavailable news apps is more than in any other country. “We know that app store removals are happening more often in China,” said GreatFire’s Karen Reilly. “We know that many of these apps are news sources. We know that many of these apps are VPNs and other software that everyday people use to protect their privacy.”