Apple yanks New York Times app from China App Store at government's behest

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2017
Apple in December was served, and complied with, a request from Chinese authorities to remove all instances of the New York Times news app from its regional App Store for violating unspecified local laws.




Highlighted in a report from The New York Times on Wednesday, Apple's decision comes as the company performs a delicate balancing act between tapping into China's booming middle class and adhering to its stringent media ruleset.

According to the report, Apple without warning removed both English and Chinese version of the NYT app from its China App Store on Dec. 23. The publication notes apps from other international news organizations are still live, suggesting The Times was targeted in the takedown.

"We have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations," said Apple spokesman Fred Sainz. "As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store. When this situation changes, the App Store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China."

Sainz did not disclose how Apple was notified of the infraction or by whom, nor did he elaborate on whether the company had been served a court order forcing the app's removal. The Times speculates the request or legal entreaty might be rooted in a new set of regulations called Provisions on the Administration of Mobile Internet Application Information Services.

Released in June 2016 by the Cyberspace Administration of China, a body which oversees internet censorship, the "mobile internet application information service management regulations" relate specifically to apps, saying such software may not be used to "endanger national security, disrupt social order, violations of the legitimate rights and interests of other laws and regulations prohibit activities." Germane to the NYT app, the rules expressly prohibit the publication and dissemination of "information prohibited by laws and regulations."

The stipulation on content is at the crux of the matter, according to The Times. Of note, Chinese government agencies began blocking NYT websites in 2012 after the publication posted a series of articles critical of former prime minister Wen Jiabao. While the CAC and other branches were successful in censoring internet content, they had difficulty blocking people from reading the same news through the Chinese-language iOS app, The Times said.

Apple has in the past promised to comply with the rules and regulations of countries in which it operates. However, as seen in last year's kerfuffle with the FBI, Apple is not one to roll over when its stated core tenets of user privacy, inclusion and free speech are threatened.

While The Times does not lay direct blame on Apple for yanking its app, the tenor of today's article implies the company is putting profits ahead of principles. In particular, the timing of the app's removal is suspect, as the publication was working on a number of stories pertaining to the Chinese government. One story, published on Dec. 29, revealed billions of dollars in "hidden perks and subsidies" the Chinese government gives to Foxconn.

On Dec. 23, the same day that the NYT app was pulled from China's App Store, a Times reporter contacted Apple's media team and the Chinese government about the article. Whether the line of questioning resulted in the app's removal is unclear.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,940member
    Businesses are all about the money. Everything else is marketing. If the U.S. were to pass laws requiring back doors to Apple’s products then Tim Cook would comply rather than shut down Apple, ethics be damned. 
  • Reply 2 of 36
    lkrupp said:
    Businesses are all about the money. Everything else is marketing. If the U.S. were to pass laws requiring back doors to Apple’s products then Tim Cook would comply rather than shut down Apple, ethics be damned. 
    Agree wholeheartedly. I think moving forward the biggest challenges for apple may not be technological, but political. They'll have to balance the political desires of China/India/US while still maintaining their identity.
  • Reply 3 of 36
    mubailimubaili Posts: 387member
    Shame on Apple. Shouldn't they try to make the regulators work a bit harder to at least produce some evidence that an violation indeed happened? Apple is walking down a very slippery slope. I wish Apple can put up a fight when a fight is called.
    rogifan_newzohaali146
  • Reply 4 of 36
    I realize that this is a very tough decision.

    While part of the obligation of being a global company is to obey local laws (or not compete there at all), it is truly unfortunate that Apple had to do this. The Chinese government restricts US tech firms from operating there in all sorts of insidious ways, restricts free flow of information and knowledge (which also takes a toll on US companies more than most others, given their huge roles in global media and tech), and is pretty draconian -- i.e., no appeals to, say, a fair judiciary -- about its decisions. (Think, e.g., of how Samsung was able to take Apple all the way to SCOTUS and win -- can you imagine that happening in China?).

    I am not at all a fan of Trump, but there's one area in which I am truly rooting for him to succeed (and am distressed at the passivity, even supineness, of the US in the past): call out China on its trade, investment, and freedom-of-doing-business policies. Tough luck in the short run if you're a shareholder. I say that as an Apple shareholder (and whose portfolio includes Apple as a sizable part). China will come to the table, and negotiate.

    Add: Much as we like to razz Google in these boards, they did have the guts to walk away from Mainland China when something similar happened some years ago where they were asked to turn over information on dissidents and such to the Chinese government. Kudos to them.
    edited January 2017 taniwhakamiltongatorguylamboaudi4
  • Reply 5 of 36
    lkrupp said:
    Businesses are all about the money. Everything else is marketing. If the U.S. were to pass laws requiring back doors to Apple’s products then Tim Cook would comply rather than shut down Apple, ethics be damned. 

    You make it sound like this is trivial for the government - it's not. It would require a series of massive changes, many of which would be vehemently opposed by not just Apple, and the tech industry, but a massive number of other organisations that require legitimate security to conduct business. (What you're suggesting may also require the suspension of the constitution.)

    You're also ignoring some very recent events which give a clue how Apple would respond to these sorts of requests. I.E. Apple did not roll over and comply.

    With regards to the NYT: we're faced with an entirely different scenario. The NYT is banned in China, any providers of media can not distribute it there. Apple's appstore is a media distribution channel, preventing the NYT in China is the same as preventing banned content in the USA.

    This is not apologist by any means, but simply to demonstrate that you're confusing two very different scenarios, both of significantly different scope.
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 6 of 36
    lkrupp said:
    Businesses are all about the money. Everything else is marketing. If the U.S. were to pass laws requiring back doors to Apple’s products then Tim Cook would comply rather than shut down Apple, ethics be damned. 
    .... preventing the NYT in China is the same as preventing banned content in the USA.
    Serious question: What content does the US ban?
  • Reply 7 of 36
    I realize that this is a very tough decision.

    While part of the obligation of being a global company is to obey local laws (or not compete there at all), it is truly unfortunate that Apple had to do this. The Chinese government restricts US tech firms from operating there in all sorts of insidious ways, restricts free flow of information and knowledge (which also takes a toll on US companies more than most others, given their huge roles in global media and tech), and is pretty draconian -- i.e., no appeals to, say, a fair judiciary -- about its decisions. (Think, e.g., of how Samsung was able to take Apple all the way to SCOTUS and win -- can you imagine that happening in China?).

    I am not at all a fan of Trump, but there's one area in which I am truly rooting for him to succeed (and am distressed at the passivity, even supineness, of the US in the past): call out China on its trade, investment, and freedom-of-doing-business policies. Tough luck in the short run if you're a shareholder. I say that as an Apple shareholder (and whose portfolio includes Apple as a sizable part). China will come to the table, and negotiate.

    Add: Much as we like to razz Google in these boards, they did have the guts to walk away from Mainland China when something similar happened some years ago where they were asked to turn over information on dissidents and such to the Chinese government. Kudos to them.
    Google didn't walk away, Google got kicked out. Google is still out and is now begging to be allowed back in. If Google is allowed back in, it is 100% guaranteed the company will obey Chinese law. 

    The NYT wrote about a company in China. That is okay for the NYT to do. The Chinese government responded. Apple had nothing to do with the NYT article. Apple got caught in the middle of a fight that is not its fight. The NYT needs to fight this fight not Apple. The NYT will not own the repercussions of its actions, it will blame Apple. Just watch how insidious the NYT will be towards Apple in the coming days. I have no doubt whatsoever the NYT will whip up freedom of the press to degenerate Apple instead of China. Why? There is more money to be made tarnishing Apple in the USA instead of the Chinese government. and instead of owning its own actions. Keep,in mind the NYT contacted Apple and China. 

    As for Trump actually following through with his trade war threat, don't bet on it! Trump products will be prevented from shipping from China. Trump tweeting threats, insults at selected companies will not include his companies. The NYT will not write extensively of this exclusion because it does not want to be on the receiving end of another Trump tweet. So much for freedom of the press.

    Apple is fighting its own fight in China. It should not be obligated to fight the fights of other companies. The NYT would not support Apple if China shutdown Apple's ability to hardware manufactured. The NYT would ridicule Apple for not following Chinese law. 


    taniwhapropodwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 36
    I realize that this is a very tough decision.

    While part of the obligation of being a global company is to obey local laws (or not compete there at all), it is truly unfortunate that Apple had to do this. The Chinese government restricts US tech firms from operating there in all sorts of insidious ways, restricts free flow of information and knowledge (which also takes a toll on US companies more than most others, given their huge roles in global media and tech), and is pretty draconian -- i.e., no appeals to, say, a fair judiciary -- about its decisions. (Think, e.g., of how Samsung was able to take Apple all the way to SCOTUS and win -- can you imagine that happening in China?).

    I am not at all a fan of Trump, but there's one area in which I am truly rooting for him to succeed (and am distressed at the passivity, even supineness, of the US in the past): call out China on its trade, investment, and freedom-of-doing-business policies. Tough luck in the short run if you're a shareholder. I say that as an Apple shareholder (and whose portfolio includes Apple as a sizable part). China will come to the table, and negotiate.

    Add: Much as we like to razz Google in these boards, they did have the guts to walk away from Mainland China when something similar happened some years ago where they were asked to turn over information on dissidents and such to the Chinese government. Kudos to them.
    Google didn't walk away, Google got kicked out. Google is still out and is now begging to be allowed back in. If Google is allowed back in, it is 100% guaranteed the company will obey Chinese law. 

    The NYT wrote about a company in China. That is okay for the NYT to do. The Chinese government responded. Apple had nothing to do with the NYT article. Apple got caught in the middle of a fight that is not its fight. The NYT needs to fight this fight not Apple. The NYT will not own the repercussions of its actions, it will blame Apple. Just watch how insidious the NYT will be towards Apple in the coming days. I have no doubt whatsoever the NYT will whip up freedom of the press to degenerate Apple instead of China. Why? There is more money to be made tarnishing Apple in the USA instead of the Chinese government. and instead of owning its own actions. Keep,in mind the NYT contacted Apple and China. 

    As for Trump actually following through with his trade war threat, don't bet on it! Trump products will be prevented from shipping from China. Trump tweeting threats, insults at selected companies will not include his companies. The NYT will not write extensively of this exclusion because it does not want to be on the receiving end of another Trump tweet. So much for freedom of the press.

    Apple is fighting its own fight in China. It should not be obligated to fight the fights of other companies. The NYT would not support Apple if China shutdown Apple's ability to hardware manufactured. The NYT would ridicule Apple for not following Chinese law. 


    I'll take The Atlantic Monthly's take on it over your interpretation any day:  http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/why-google-quit-china-and-why-its-heading-back/424482/
    sirlance99SpamSandwichgatorguy
  • Reply 9 of 36

    mubaili said:
    Shame on Apple. Shouldn't they try to make the regulators work a bit harder to at least produce some evidence that an violation indeed happened? Apple is walking down a very slippery slope. I wish Apple can put up a fight when a fight is called.
    Interesting that Apple is being condemned instead of the NYT. Instead of fighting for itself, it is blaming Apple. Well, the NYT will earn a lot of money from clicks on articles tarnishing Apple for obeying Chinese law. Taking the word of the NYT about what happened is stupid. We have no idea what Apple did or did not do before removing the NYT app. Trusting the NYT to tell the truth is foolish. 
  • Reply 10 of 36

    mubaili said:
    Shame on Apple. Shouldn't they try to make the regulators work a bit harder to at least produce some evidence that an violation indeed happened? Apple is walking down a very slippery slope. I wish Apple can put up a fight when a fight is called.
    Interesting that Apple is being condemned instead of the NYT. Instead of fighting for itself, it is blaming Apple. Well, the NYT will earn a lot of money from clicks on articles tarnishing Apple for obeying Chinese law. Taking the word of the NYT about what happened is stupid. We have no idea what Apple did or did not do before removing the NYT app. Trusting the NYT to tell the truth is foolish. 
    Those are silly overstatements. The simple fact is -- if you took the trouble to read the seemingly pretty good investigative reporting by David Barboza -- the NYT's stories on Chinese oligarchies, poltical connections, and corruption, hardly news, got them into trouble. Just as something something similar got Google into trouble. 

    What makes it it somewhat hypocritical is the fact that Tim Cook is often out there talking about the importance of his speaking out on major social issues. 
    edited January 2017 rogifan_newtaniwha
  • Reply 11 of 36
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 476member
    Part of the issues in the comments is that AppleInsider is actually not being clear in the article when it states:

    "Apple has in the past promised to comply with the rules and regulations of countries in which it operates. However, as seen in last year's kerfuffle with the FBI, Apple is not one to roll over when its stated core tenets of user privacy, inclusion and free speech are threatened."

    The "kerfuffle with the FBI" was 1. not established law and 2. was beyond Apple's immediate capabilities to perform. The TL:DR version is that in the US, if a magistrate of a lower court orders a defendant to do something, as happened in the case being referenced, the defendant has the right to appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court. Only once the SC has issued a ruling would it become incumbent on Apple to do what the lower court had ordered. As it so happened, the FBI / Federal Government did not pursue this case all the way to the SC. Tim Cook made it clear that Apple would abide by the laws of the US but as this never reached the SC, Apple never had to comply with the lower court ruling. Even if the SC had said that Apple had to build in a back door to its iPhones, the company has no way to do so and the ruling would very likely have only been for devices released after the ruling. Apple did try to cooperate as fully as possible with the US government and we know for instance that Apple had tried to access the backup data on the San Bernardino's shooters iPhone but the FBI had changed the password. There are other examples too for instance, when two boys in a boat went missing off the coast of Florida and their iPhone was found, Apple did everything within its power to try and access the data on the phone. So, if China passes a law that says that Apple needs to delete an app if that is 1. the law of the country and 2. Apple can comply with the law, which is this case it is to remove the NYTimes app from the China App Store, then they will do so. Now, should Apple take an ethical / moral standing and withdraw their products from China? That is a different issue but to their credit, they have been pretty consistent in their approach that they will obey local laws. If you don't like that then maybe an iPhone is not the product for you? 
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 12 of 36
    leavingthebigg said:

    mubaili said:
    Shame on Apple. Shouldn't they try to make the regulators work a bit harder to at least produce some evidence that an violation indeed happened? Apple is walking down a very slippery slope. I wish Apple can put up a fight when a fight is called.
    Interesting that Apple is being condemned instead of the NYT. Instead of fighting for itself, it is blaming Apple. Well, the NYT will earn a lot of money from clicks on articles tarnishing Apple for obeying Chinese law. Taking the word of the NYT about what happened is stupid. We have no idea what Apple did or did not do before removing the NYT app. Trusting the NYT to tell the truth is foolish. 
    We can all read between the lines. They exposed the cozy relationship between apple and china and they paid the price. Simple... I find it nauseating however, how apple quickly bends over to accommodate China's requests but willfully drags their heels when dealing with our govt. I'm curious where apple will draw the line when it comes to China's requests. When they ask for a backdoor?
    edited January 2017 rogifan_newtaniwha
  • Reply 13 of 36
    NemWanNemWan Posts: 115member
    securtis said:
    leavingthebigg said:

    mubaili said:
    Shame on Apple. Shouldn't they try to make the regulators work a bit harder to at least produce some evidence that an violation indeed happened? Apple is walking down a very slippery slope. I wish Apple can put up a fight when a fight is called.
    Interesting that Apple is being condemned instead of the NYT. Instead of fighting for itself, it is blaming Apple. Well, the NYT will earn a lot of money from clicks on articles tarnishing Apple for obeying Chinese law. Taking the word of the NYT about what happened is stupid. We have no idea what Apple did or did not do before removing the NYT app. Trusting the NYT to tell the truth is foolish. 
    We can all read between the lines. They exposed the cozy relationship between apple and china and they paid the price. Simple... I find it nauseating however, how apple quickly bends over to accommodate China's requests but willfully drags their heels when dealing with our govt. I'm curious where apple will draw the line when it comes to China's requests. When they ask for a backdoor?
    IIRC Apple representatives testified under oath to Congress that no government in the world had tried to make Apple to create a less secure version of its software before the FBI did. China asking Apple to censor content from public distribution is bad but it doesn't risk users' privacy and security the way backdoored software would.
  • Reply 14 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,537member
    Google didn't walk away, Google got kicked out. Google is still out and is now begging to be allowed back in. If Google is allowed back in, it is 100% guaranteed the company will obey Chinese law. 




    What the heck are you fabricating?  China did no such thing with Google.  You post one link to a reputable site that even remotely implies your take on this.
    Google essentially gave China the middle-finger and left.  China in all it's arrogance just let one of its own internal companies swoop right in and take over the search/info business.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 15 of 36
    NemWan said:
    IIRC Apple representatives testified under oath to Congress that no government in the world had tried to make Apple to create a less secure version of its software before the FBI did. China asking Apple to censor content from public distribution is bad but it doesn't risk users' privacy and security the way backdoored software would.
    I know, it's a slippery slope though. 
  • Reply 16 of 36
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,537member


    I am not at all a fan of Trump, but there's one area in which I am truly rooting for him to succeed (and am distressed at the passivity, even supineness, of the US in the past): call out China on its trade, investment, and freedom-of-doing-business policies. Tough luck in the short run if you're a shareholder. I say that as an Apple shareholder (and whose portfolio includes Apple as a sizable part). China will come to the table, and negotiate.

    Amen to that.  I like the fact that Trump's rhetoric is rattling Beijing.  They are way, WAY overdue for receiving some serious repercussions for its smug attitude.  China really needs to get booted out of the WTO.  No other way around it.  China feels that that world depends on it for making their cheap TV's and microwave ovens and while that's true in the short term, the rest of the WTO countries need to unite and put China in its place.

    If China places tariffs on US products, so should we.  If China requires international companies wanting to do business in China be partly-owned by China, then we should require the exact same rules.

    And don't get me started on China building that war-machine island, which is violating every single international law.. but everyone is too chicken-shit to stand up to Beijing.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 17 of 36
    Somewhat interesting that Apple, at a Chinese Government Request, would remove an app that NY Times probably had to hire a team of translators to manage.  We'll never know if NY Times wanted to challenge China directly in a court of law.  Apple already chose a side.  By doing this, Apple effectively shut out the press (And NY Times Newspaper) from the world's largest market (and country), with 3,000,000,000 people. 

    But when the US wants an iPhone unlocked, Apple denies that request.  Perhaps it's time to "Think Different" on how large and influential a company should be allowed to be. 
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 18 of 36
    Somewhat interesting that Apple, at a Chinese Government Request, would remove an app that NY Times probably had to hire a team of translators to manage.  We'll never know if NY Times wanted to challenge China directly in a court of law.  Apple already chose a side.  By doing this, Apple effectively shut out the press (And NY Times Newspaper) from the world's largest market (and country), with 3,000,000,000 people. 

    But when the US wants an iPhone unlocked, Apple denies that request.  Perhaps it's time to "Think Different" on how large and influential a company should be allowed to be. 
    Your post is a bit hard to take seriously when you talk about NYT taking on China in a court of law (seriously, which court would that be?) or claiming that the country has 3 billion people or that it's the "world's largest market."
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 19 of 36
    Somewhat interesting that Apple, at a Chinese Government Request, would remove an app that NY Times probably had to hire a team of translators to manage.  We'll never know if NY Times wanted to challenge China directly in a court of law.  Apple already chose a side.  By doing this, Apple effectively shut out the press (And NY Times Newspaper) from the world's largest market (and country), with 3,000,000,000 people. 

    But when the US wants an iPhone unlocked, Apple denies that request.  Perhaps it's time to "Think Different" on how large and influential a company should be allowed to be. 
    Your post is a bit hard to take seriously when you talk about NYT taking on China in a court of law (seriously, which court would that be?) or claiming that the country has 3 billion people or that it's the "world's largest market."
     Then you must be Chinese, because to me,  sing one set of government and governance rules and due process is more important then another is choosing favorites. 

    You have to remember, the New York Times has a bureau located in Beijing.  These reporters do what they're told in accordance with Watt. If there really wasn't an issue, most likely the government of China would have gone knocking on the Door of the New York Times news desk.  And complain to the editor and publisher directly.    And yes China has implemented a system of governance and "Due Process". it may not be the same type of "due process" that you and I are accustomed to but there is still a way to complain. Apple has removed that ability to complain by taking it I'll pawn themselves to be judge jury and executioner.

     Apple still allows people to buy Wall Street Journal on a number of other US magazines. 
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 20 of 36
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,000member
    This is the case of shooting the middle man. Apple has nothing to do whatsoever in between China government and NYT besides as a provider of NYT contents to Chinese consumer, and yet they take the blame like usual. Just see in near future the media of 2 countries will shift all the blame to Apple. The best action Apple could take right now is comply. Complaining to either sides will result in more damages to Apple than otherwise.
    edited January 2017
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