Apple Cooperates With Chinese Censorship Demands, Removes Popular Messaging Apps From Store

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Will Kessler Contributor
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Tech behemoth Apple complied with an order from the Chinese government to remove popular messaging apps from the company’s app store in the country, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Apple removed messaging platforms WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, as well as social media app Threads, from its Chinese App Store in compliance with an order from the Cyberspace Administration of China, which cited national security concerns as the reason for the restrictions, according to the WSJ. China’s order follows a heated debate among U.S. lawmakers over whether to place restrictions on the Chinese Communist Party-linked app TikTok, with some parties calling for the app to either be sold to a non-Chinese entity or be banned in the U.S. (RELATED: Stop The Steel? Biden Vows To Block Foreign Acquisition Of Iconic American Company)

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” an Apple spokesperson told the WSJ.

The removed apps have a combined three billion users globally and could previously only be accessed in China through virtual private networks that spoof users’ locations to get around China’s censorship firewall, according to the WSJ. China delivered an edict last year that required apps to be registered with the government by March, or they would be taken down.

Apple has sought to maintain strong ties with the Chinese government, with CEO Tim Cook visiting the country last year and praising the two’s history of cooperation. Apple shareholders voted down a proposal at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in February that would have required an internal investigation to be done over whether the company was following its own human rights policy positions in its cooperation with China.

Apple removed The New York Times news app from its store in China in 2017, with the country claiming it violated local regulations. The Chinese government blocked the NYT website in 2012 after reports emerged detailing the wealth of former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation. Meta deferred to Apple.

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