Apple Faces Inquiry in China Over App Store Content

Apple Faces Inquiry in China Over App Store Content

The American technology giant has been under pressure from Chinese authorities over the content it provides in the country.

By CARLOS TEJADA APRIL 19, 2017

HONG KONG — Chinese authorities plan to question Apple about video streaming services available over its app store within the country, in their latest move to intensify pressure on the American technology giant over the content it provides in the vast and crucial market.

A report on China’s official Xinhua News Agency late Wednesday said that the authorities would summon Apple to urge it to “tighten up checks on software applications available in the Apple Store.” The report did not say when the summoning would take place.

The inquiry appears to focus on third-party apps available on the company’s app store in China. The report said the authorities had told three Chinese websites to tighten their oversight of online information, livestreaming services and online performance. Some broadcasters, it said, offered live content forbidden by Chinese law, including pornography.

The authorities had already met with Apple representatives about livestreaming apps available on its app store in China, Xinhua said, without disclosing details.

An Apple spokeswoman in China did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report comes as Chinese authorities put pressure on Apple over the apps and other content it offers its users in China, which in the fiscal quarter that ended Dec. 31 accounted for about one-fifth of its revenue.

The moves are part of a broader Chinese effort to regulate internet content. With services like Google, Facebook and Twitter long blocked in China, Apple is a rare foreign-owned company that provides a significant amount of apps and other content through platforms it controls.

A year ago, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down in China, six months after they were started there. In December 2016, complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities, Apple also removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China. Apple did not specify what prompted the request.

More recently, Chinese authorities have also ordered app stores in China to register with the government. Because Google’s app store is among that company’s services that are blocked in the country, a considerable number of locally owned third-party app stores have popped up in recent years to serve phones running Google’s Android mobile-operating system. That has complicated China’s efforts to control the country’s fast-growing mobile internet business.

The Xinhua report on Wednesday said that Apple had been approached by the Beijing offices of three Chinese agencies. They included the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top online regulator, as well as public security officials and a cultural law enforcement group.

The report said three Chinese websites — toutiao.com, huoshanzhibo.com and huajiao.com — had violated regulations concerning internet information services. Some potential violations, it said, would be referred to the police.


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