Everyone knows that the iPhone isn’t just popular here in the U.S. Many mobile users overseas also enjoy the features and functionality of the iPhone, too. For instance, China is Apple’s second largest market, and China Mobile is one of the largest carriers for Apple smartphones. So it comes as a total surprise that Apple has decided to start blocking the News app from the huge number of iOS users in China.
What does this mean for users? Unfortunately, if you are attempting to view the News app in China, you will find the following message: “Can’t refresh right now. News isn’t supported in your current region.”
This even goes for any content that you have previously downloaded to your device from the News app. Though it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the Chinese government often monitors and censors domestic media, including social media sites such as Google and Facebook.
The direct censorship of both online and offline content follows a new cybersecurity law adopted by China. Global information security researcher Bill Hagestad II explains “if foreign companies do not follow the guidance and direction of the Communist Party and their various Internet control entities inside China, then they’re not welcome to have their applications and technologies used by Chinese citizens.”
Major tech companies have found the challenge of censorship in other countries to be slightly difficult. According to the NY Times, most of the bigger companies use automated software in addition to employees in order to abide by the censorship laws. Apple seems to be taking the unyielding route and entirely censoring all stories and media that comes through their News app.
With China pulling in a whopping $13+ billion in the third quarter, you have to wonder if Apple has chosen such a direct route with this censorship in order to avoid upsetting the Chinese government. Still, their censorship has upset enough of their loyal users to bring the company’s ethics into question.
A majority of users are finding the on-device censorship quite creepy and invasive. “This isn’t just a case of Apple not distributing content,” Carroll continued. “It’s about Apple going into people’s devices and denying them access to things they’ve stored for offline use. That’s a whole different dimes sion of control,” revealed Mass Communications Professor, John Carroll.