or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple draws criticism after pulling Chinese anti-censorship app
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple draws criticism after pulling Chinese anti-censorship app

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
Apple has been criticized by the developer of a Chinese app designed to bypass China's Internet censorship protocols after the company removed the title from the App Store in China because its functionality is illegal in that country.



Open Door was sold in the Chinese App Store until July of this year, when Apple pulled the program, saying that it contained content that was illegal within China. The app saw roughly 2,000 daily downloads in China, according to the Daily Mail, and it is still available in the App Stores of other countries, including the U.S. App Store.

Open Door "protects users' privacy and anonymity online," according to its developers. It was a browser app that circumvented China's "great firewall," and its developers say that any information accessed through the app would be accessed at the user's own discretion.

Subverting China?s state censorship firewall is trivial for users to do via either a proxy server or using a Virtual Private Network. The developer?s Open Door app packaged this bypass functionality in a free app with advertising, and sold In App Purchases to remove the advertising.

The app's developers say that they received no notification from Apple of the app's removal. Upon contacting Apple, they were told that developers must abide by the laws of the countries in which their apps are sold. They say that they will not challenge Open Door's removal, claiming fears that the app could come under scrutiny and face removal in other countries.

"Unfortunately," one developer told CNN, "we're not aware of any app developer ever [who was successful] in challenging Apple's decision. In fact, we won't be surprised if Apple decides to pull our app from all App Stores and/or terminates our account in retaliation."

After the app's removal, Apple came under fire from Chinese social media users, who accused Apple of kowtowing to the demands of China's government.

"The fruit is contaminated," one user wrote on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo. "Where is your integrity!" wrote another.

Apple has previously pulled apps from the Chinese App Store in order to come into alignment with laws in that country. In April, Apple pulled a book-selling app that gave users access to government-banned titles. That move came shortly after Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized to Chinese customers following a string of government-boosted anti-Apple stories.

Apple executives have continually acknowledged the importance of the Chinese market for the company's future. China surpassed the United States as the world's largest market for mobile devices earlier this year, and Apple's devices enjoy considerable popularity in the world's most populous nation. In order to better court Chinese consumers, many of which have incomes too low to afford Apple's products, the iPhone maker has introduced new pricing and payment strategies in order to make sure its devices get into their hands.
post #2 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple has come under criticism for its recent decision to take down a Chinese app that allowed users to bypass China's Internet censorship protocols.

And if they didn't take it down, people would complain that Apple was helping people to break the law.

The app is illegal in China. Apple had every right to take it down.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #3 of 100
Apple will follow that country's laws. That is all there is to it. Yay for Apple.

If you want to bypass China's censors, then get TOR. Dummy.
post #4 of 100

What else are Apple supposed to do? China's laws may be utterly appalling, but if you want to do business there you have to abide by them.

post #5 of 100
It's good to see a company abiding by the laws of a nation, even if I disagree with those laws. Perhaps Samsung could take a few pointers.
post #6 of 100

I support the authoritarian communists in this instance.

 

The main thing that matters is Apple selling more devices in China, and censorship is how things are done over there, so censor away.

post #7 of 100

While I sympathise with the activists' point of view, it's not wise for a guest to take sides in a domestic dispute. 

 

Mention of Samsung makes me shudder. Brings back an old Aussie commination:

 

'May your chooks turn into emus,
And peck your dunny down.
Peck your dunny down.
Really go to town.
I hope your chooks turn into emus.
Yes, I do, I really do.
And when they've pecked your dunny down,
I hope they peck on you.'

post #8 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post
 

What else are Apple supposed to do? China's laws may be utterly appalling, but if you want to do business there you have to abide by them.

 

Didn't Google pull out of China for this reason?

post #9 of 100

Ya wanna make money in China, you've gotta take it in the ass from Xi Jinping. Shouldn't hurt too much. 

I'm one of those unusual beings who enjoys both his Apple and Samsung products. 
Reply
I'm one of those unusual beings who enjoys both his Apple and Samsung products. 
Reply
post #10 of 100
This is a non-issue. As an expat living in China, it is easy to get around the Great Chinese Firewall. Even high school kids know how to do it as do all the foreigners living here - either VPNs or proxies are easy to come by for anyone interested in getting around the censors. What is more frustrating here is how slow the internet is, especially when crossing the firewall back to the west, even for sites that are not blocked and awhen not using VPN.
post #11 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 

 

Didn't Google pull out of China for this reason?

 

A few years ago Google redirected Chinese users to their Hong Kong Google search which wasn't censored and allowed people to search terms like "tiananmen square" and it royally pissed off the Chinese government.  The Chinese gov't blocked Google and Google caved.  They went back to allowing China to censor search results but Google put a message up to the user saying that the results had been censored.  That message was dropped early this year.

post #12 of 100

Does anyone else see the PORTAL logo?

 

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #13 of 100
Big deal. I know lots of folks in China who get by and get past the censors with any old VPN. You don't need some fancy app for that.

If you do business abroad there is only one of two choices: obey the local law, or get out.
post #14 of 100

Well,  Apple needs to have a good relationship with the Chinese government if they want to sell iDevices there.  Facilitating communication that is forbidden by the government would not be helpful to the relationship.

 

Its OK to take heat for abiding by the law.  They don't have to agree with the law but they should respect China law and abide by it when they are in China.


Edited by AppleSauce007 - 10/6/13 at 3:58am
post #15 of 100
Bit of a non story ....and funny the developer is reported as not understanding why Apple had to remove it...duh
post #16 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

I support the authoritarian communists in this instance.

 

The main thing that matters is Apple selling more devices in China, and censorship is how things are done over there, so censor away.

Yeah right. Anything for a buck is ok. Good thinking. Wanna buy some crack ?

post #17 of 100
Pretty straightforward. You break the law, the app comes down. It's in the developer agreement. Just be glad you're not getting sued morons.
post #18 of 100
Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post
Yeah right. Anything for a buck is ok.

 

No, but following the law for the purpose of selling a product is. Would you prefer child porn apps in the US? Age of consent is 12 in some places, after all.

Originally Posted by asdasd

This is Appleinsider. It's all there for you but we can't do it for you.
Reply

Originally Posted by asdasd

This is Appleinsider. It's all there for you but we can't do it for you.
Reply
post #19 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

The app is illegal in China. Apple had every right to take it down.
Exactly. Apple is a commercial company, not a democracy organisation. Of course they need to comply with the laws of the markets they're operating in. And, nowadays it's very easy, and safe to jailbreak your iPhone for this functionality. I still think China should loosen up its internet laws, and I'm sure everyone at Apple thinks that too, but that's not Apple's battle to fight.
post #20 of 100
Talk about being stuck in the classic "between a rock and a hard place" scenario. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" also works here.

If they want to do business in China without all the constant negative press that we saw plenty of earlier this year (leading to the apology from TC), they'll have to kowtow to the Chinese Government. Period.

They can't carry the banner for "the resistance". It is neither their place nor their mandate.

Apple can, however, continue to supply them with these devices (that are both a phone AND an internet communication device capable of bypassing the censors), and given the right tools, users can continue without Apple's "blessing"%u2026

e.g. If you downloaded that same app off a regular website, all you'd have to do to install it to your phone without using the App Store, is drag and drop it onto iTunes. Done! The next time you sync, it'll be on your phone.

Being on the App Store does legitimize developers (and protects users a bit more), but in circumstances like these, well, sometimes a bit more discretion is advised...
post #21 of 100
Comply with local laws or face company extinction; it's non-negotiable. The indignancy from the developers is disingenuous as they know very well what their product is.
post #22 of 100

Does that work like a proxy? If so, there are plenty of proxy services on the web, although are they all or mostly blocked at this point?

post #23 of 100
Don't blame apple, blame your country. My god people are barking at the wrong tree.
post #24 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Does anyone else see the PORTAL logo?





This prior art thing has got to stop!

"See her this weekend. You hit it off, come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her."
- Roger Sterling
Reply
"See her this weekend. You hit it off, come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her."
- Roger Sterling
Reply
post #25 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post
 

Yeah right. Anything for a buck is ok. Good thinking. Wanna buy some crack ?

 

Yes, it would be totally idiotic for Apple to allow the app to remain on the store. Apple is not going to go up against the Chinese govt over one little app. Activist types don't think with their brains, and pragmatic thinking is what is needed in this case, not delusional lunacy. The Chinese people should have a revolution if they don't like their govt. Until then, it's business as usual in China, with whomever happens to be in charge.

 

And why would I want to buy any crack? I am not a crackhead, though I'm pretty sure that if a study were to be commissioned,  it would show that the majority of crackheads are Android users, since after blowing most of their money on crack, they are left with no money to purchase premium mobile devices like Apple offers.

 

The good news is that Apple devices are highly desirable, they're electronic crack, they're totally legal, and people can't get enough of them, not to mention that they don't come with any of the nasty and deadly side effects that accompanies real crack. 


Edited by Apple ][ - 10/6/13 at 12:46am
post #26 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post

What else are Apple supposed to do? China's laws may be utterly appalling, but if you want to do business there you have to abide by them.
Very easy answer: do what Amazon does: allow any user to shop in any of Amazon's national stores with a single user ID.
That way they can abide by the law and remove it from the Chinese AppStore, but people in China simply switch store and buy the app e.g. in the US store.
The necessity to have a different AppleID for each store is brain-dead in a mobile, globalized economy anyway:
I travel a lot and anything like public transport information apps, local mobile carrier's apps, local postal system, phone directory, store opening hours apps, etc. are usually only available in each countries AppStores.
So by now I have half a dozen AppleIDs, and that count is bound to get higher.
And then one has to even switch stores to download upgrades to apps already in the iTunes library, which is a major waste of time.
And to make matters worse: iTunes Match is not logged in separately, so after routine app upgrades one has to re-add the machine to iTunes Match with all the scanning, comparing and uploading and waiting and wasted bandwidth that entails.
What we have now at Apple works well for someone living in a trailer park, not for a globally mobile educated modern person.
post #27 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

e.g. If you downloaded that same app off a regular website, all you'd have to do to install it to your phone without using the App Store, is drag and drop it onto iTunes. Done! The next time you sync, it'll be on your phone.

Unfortunately that's not possible, that's exactly the one of the main reasons why people have to jail-break iPhones to allow the installation of non-AppStore apps.
If it were possible what you write only morons were bitching about various forms of Apple censorship which covers anything from Kamasutra apps (incl. kicking out one of the first and best ones while admitting a bunch of blatant imitations of the original one) to silly toy apps to political speech.
If the AppStore weren't the single point of entry, then I'd be fully on Apple's side controlling what apps are most directly linked in users' minds with the Apple experience; but with the AppStore being an artificially created monopoly, different standards should apply, otherwise with the growing importance of mobile devices, we're facing a corporate instead of government mind control.
post #28 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by jameskatt2 View Post

Apple will follow that country's laws. That is all there is to it. Yay for Apple.

If you want to bypass China's censors, then get TOR. Dummy.

I may point out that anything that happened in Nazi-Germany was according to the law.
So why are companies to this day paying retribution for having followed the law?

Because nobody is allowed to hide behind the law and chain of command if the laws run counter to basic HUMAN RIGHTS.

There are more important values than corporate profits in this world.
post #29 of 100
Whatever happened to 'don't do evil'?

Yeh I know that was google, just playing with your mind.

As everyone says, what can you do? The law is bad but laws are laws.
post #30 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post
 

Yeah right. Anything for a buck is ok. Good thinking. Wanna buy some crack ?

 

Yes, it would be totally idiotic for Apple to allow the app to remain on the store. Apple is not going to go up against the Chinese govt over one little app. Activist types don't think with their brains, and pragmatic thinking is what is needed in this case, not delusional lunacy. The Chinese people should have a revolution if they don't like their govt. Until then, it's business as usual in China, with whomever happens to be in charge.

 

And why would I want to buy any crack? I am not a crackhead, though I'm pretty sure that if a study were to be commissioned,  it would show that the majority of crackheads are Android users, since after blowing most of their money on crack, they are left with no money to purchase premium mobile devices like Apple offers.

 

The good news is that Apple devices are highly desirable, they're electronic crack, they're totally legal, and people can't get enough of them, not to mention that they don't come with any of the nasty and deadly side effects that accompanies real crack. 

Sorry, I wildly overestimated your intelligence. I didn't think the /s was really necessary.

post #31 of 100

I agree with you 100% on this issue.

post #32 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

Well,  Apple needs to have a good relationship with the Chinese government if they want to sell iDevices there.

It's not a commercial decision - it's a legal one. They have to follow the law. Whether they sell 1 iDevice or a billion, the law is the law.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post

Very easy answer: do what Amazon does: allow any user to shop in any of Amazon's national stores with a single user ID.

Except that it has nothing at all to do with Apple IDs or the Apple Store. It's about Internet access.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #33 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post

A few years ago Google redirected Chinese users to their Hong Kong Google search which wasn't censored and allowed people to search terms like "tiananmen square" and it royally pissed off the Chinese government.  The Chinese gov't blocked Google and Google caved.  They went back to allowing China to censor search results but Google put a message up to the user saying that the results had been censored.  That message was dropped early this year.

Thanks for that info, I had kind of lost track of the goings on regarding this.
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
Reply
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
Reply
post #34 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post

Sorry, I wildly overestimated your intelligence. I didn't think the /s was really necessary.

Just read his posts over the last few years! 1oyvey.gif My theory is he is an Apple hater masquerading as an Apple lover posting stuff to give Apple users a bad name! 1hmm.gif (OK I am kidding!)

Remember the site has an ignore list. 1biggrin.gif
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
Reply
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
Reply
post #35 of 100
The more I edited my response, so many thoughts crept in. In the end I realized this Chinese developer has been fortunate enough to have equivalent opportunities as US developers for developing apps for the iPhone/iPad/iPod. He has access to a Mac computer, access to the iOS developer program, has access to iOS 6 and iOS 7, has access to an iPhone and iPad. I write "has" because his app was updated September 17, 2013 to support iOS 7 in the US App Store.

He was able to find the time to study and learn how to develop for iOS. He was tenacious enough to find at least one repeatable way to circumvent Chinese government censors in multi-language iPhone and iPad apps that are on App Stores around the world. Being this capable means the developer is capable enough to find other ways to fight HIS fight. He has chosen to force Apple into his fight because he knows any mention of Apple will immediately reverberate around the world AND that the press will attack Apple for not fighting the Chinese government. He and the press know Apple will not fight the laws of the Chinese government and that plays well for his press fight.

He cannot turn to Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! for this fight. Facebook and Twitter cannot help him. Other US companies do not have big enough platforms the world cares enough about using for his purposes. I do not recall any non-US companies that can be pulled into this fight for worldwide exploitation. Sadly, Apple is the point company for this kind of fight.

So, come Sunday night and Monday morning I expect this story to be critical of Apple in many articles that cover it. I hope to be proven wrong.
post #36 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

The more I edited my response, so many thoughts crept in. In the end I realized this Chinese developer has been fortunate enough to have equivalent opportunities as US developers for developing apps for the iPhone/iPad/iPod. He has access to a Mac computer, access to the iOS developer program, has access to iOS 6 and iOS 7, has access to an iPhone and iPad. I write "has" because his app was updated September 17, 2013 to support iOS 7 in the US App Store.

He was able to find the time to study and learn how to develop for iOS. He was tenacious enough to find at least one repeatable way to circumvent Chinese government censors in multi-language iPhone and iPad apps that are on App Stores around the world. Being this capable means the developer is capable enough to find other ways to fight HIS fight. He has chosen to force Apple into his fight because he knows any mention of Apple will immediately reverberate around the world AND that the press will attack Apple for not fighting the Chinese government. He and the press know Apple will not fight the laws of the Chinese government and that plays well for his press fight.

He cannot turn to Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! for this fight. Facebook and Twitter cannot help him. Other US companies do not have big enough platforms the world cares enough about using for his purposes. I do not recall any non-US companies that can be pulled into this fight for worldwide exploitation. Sadly, Apple is the point company for this kind of fight.

So, come Sunday night and Monday morning I expect this story to be critical of Apple in many articles that cover it. I hope to be proven wrong.

A well thought out post. Assuming he did indeed think it through as you suggest, I can't blame him for trying. Or perhaps he was more naive but I still can't blame him for trying. At the same time I agree, Apple has to abide by the law of the country. You are right for sure though, it will be yet another basket of rotten tomatoes for the Scamsung paid horde to throw and the media will lap it up and AAPL will no doubt drop because of it. 1hmm.gif
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
Reply
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
Reply
post #37 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

The more I edited my response, so many thoughts crept in. In the end I realized this Chinese developer has been fortunate enough to have equivalent opportunities as US developers for developing apps for the iPhone/iPad/iPod. He has access to a Mac computer, access to the iOS developer program, has access to iOS 6 and iOS 7, has access to an iPhone and iPad. I write "has" because his app was updated September 17, 2013 to support iOS 7 in the US App Store.

He was able to find the time to study and learn how to develop for iOS. He was tenacious enough to find at least one repeatable way to circumvent Chinese government censors in multi-language iPhone and iPad apps that are on App Stores around the world. Being this capable means the developer is capable enough to find other ways to fight HIS fight. He has chosen to force Apple into his fight because he knows any mention of Apple will immediately reverberate around the world AND that the press will attack Apple for not fighting the Chinese government. He and the press know Apple will not fight the laws of the Chinese government and that plays well for his press fight.

He cannot turn to Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! for this fight. Facebook and Twitter cannot help him. Other US companies do not have big enough platforms the world cares enough about using for his purposes. I do not recall any non-US companies that can be pulled into this fight for worldwide exploitation. Sadly, Apple is the point company for this kind of fight.

So, come Sunday night and Monday morning I expect this story to be critical of Apple in many articles that cover it. I hope to be proven wrong.

 

Yes - I was thinking along the same lines - with so many issues that get media attention - that attention is focused in the wrong place - if you don't agree with the the law don't blame those who abide by the law and celebrate those who flaunt the law - work on getting the law changed. 

post #38 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by "Apple 
[" url="/t/159960/apple-draws-criticism-after-pulling-chinese-anti-censorship-app#post_2412136"]
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taniwha View Post

 
Yeah right. Anything for a buck is ok. Good thinking. Wanna buy some crack ?

Yes, it would be totally idiotic for Apple to allow the app to remain on the store. Apple is not going to go up against the Chinese govt over one little app. Activist types don't think with their brains, and pragmatic thinking is what is needed in this case, not delusional lunacy. The Chinese people should have a revolution if they don't like their govt. Until then, it's business as usual in China, with whomever happens to be in charge.

And why would I want to buy any crack? I am not a crackhead, though I'm pretty sure that if a study were to be commissioned,  it would show that the majority of crackheads are Android users, since after blowing most of their money on crack, they are left with no money to purchase premium mobile devices like Apple offers.

The good news is that Apple devices are highly desirable, they're electronic crack, they're totally legal, and people can't get enough of them, not to mention that they don't come with any of the nasty and deadly side effects that accompanies real crack. 
Sorry, I wildly overestimated your intelligence. I didn't think the /s was really necessary.

Quite obviously, you didn't get his implied '/s' either, so looks like you're even.
post #39 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I support the authoritarian communists in this instance. The main thing that matters is Apple selling more devices in China
I wonder how China would feel if Apple closed up shop there and moved all of their manufacturing to Taiwan? I'll bet they would be open to negotiating then ...

Your black and white views of China are wildly out of step with reality. If not for outside influences pushing China's human rights policies, there would be no market for iDevices there.

I'm glad I'm not living in your America where the South's economic model was based on slavery, and all that matters is selling more cotton.
post #40 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

Well,  Apple needs to have a good relationship with the Chinese government if they want to sell iDevices there.


It's not a commercial decision - it's a legal one. They have to follow the law. Whether they sell 1 iDevice or a billion, the law is the law.

 

It is a commercial decision to do business in countries with dubious human rights records. e.g. boycotting South Africa to end Apartheid was not a legal decision (at least at the beginning), but one to decide what's the higher value: some extra profit, or a cleaner conscience. Many companies at the time, some under pressure from customers, decided to forego the profits and withdraw from that country.

 

But that was a different time, when a large proportion of the American public held the view that corporate profits are not the most important thing in the world.

 

 
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcfa View Post

Very easy answer: do what Amazon does: allow any user to shop in any of Amazon's national stores with a single user ID.


Except that it has nothing at all to do with Apple IDs or the Apple Store. It's about Internet access.

 

 

It has everything to do with AppleIDs and the AppleStore, if you had read properly what I wrote, you'd realize that.

If AppleIDs would, like Amazon customer IDs, allow to be used in any of the national iTunes Stores, then Apple could comply with Chinese law and remove the app from the Chines AppStore, while Chinese customers could simply sign in to the US AppStore with the same AppleID and buy the product from an off-shore AppStore where Chinese law doesn't apply.

It would then be up to the Chinese government to try to block access to the US AppStore, Apple would be compliant, but Chinese customers could still buy the app by using a different AppStore.

Apple however doesn't allow using an AppleID from one country in another country's AppStore or iTunes store (unlike Amazon). So e.g. for me to download an Austrian store opening app, I first have to create an extra AppleID, create some Austrian form of payment, etc. (even if only buying a local Austrian iTunes Store gift card). These are hurdles that are close to impossible to bypass for a Chinese person unless they first leave the country or have a personal friend outside China who cooperates with them in that bypass maneuver.

 

 
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple draws criticism after pulling Chinese anti-censorship app