CallKit iPhone apps pulled from Chinese App Store amid new government crackdown

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple is starting to remove apps from the App Store in China that integrate with CallKit, in response to moves by the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to enforce cybersecurity regulations.




In what appears to be a continuation of the government's efforts to control how China's citizens use the Internet and connected electronics, China is now seemingly going after online calling services. Apple has started to take down apps from the regional App Store, following another government request.

Notices sent to developers by Apple, received by 9to5Mac, reveal the MIIT "requested that CallKit functionality be deactivated in all apps available on the China App Store." The note goes on to state the apps in question can return to the store once CallKit functionality has been removed.

CallKit is a developer framework introduced as part of iOS 10, providing an Apple-produced calling interface similar to the main Phone app that can also handle system-level behaviors including Do Not Disturb. While CallKit provides the familiar user interface, the app itself handles the back-end communication element, namely connecting the call between app users.

While it isn't specifically noted in the Apple message, it is highly likely that the apps being targeted would be those offering VoIP calling functionality. There are relatively few reasons why an app would need to use CallKit, and clamping down on VoIP services is the most logical reason, given China's previous history regarding online services.

In July 2017, Apple pulled a number of virtual private network (VPN) apps from the Chinese App Store, in order to comply with the country's cybersecurity laws. At the time, the government was cracking down on unauthorized VPN services, which allowed people to circumvent the so-called "Great Firewall" censorship system that affects almost all Internet traffic in the country.

In response to criticism over the VPN apps disappearing from view, Apple CEO Tim Cook advised "We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business." In October the same year, U.S. senators wrote to Cook, suggesting the move potentially enabled the country's censorship and Internet surveillance policies.

In 2016, China forced Apple to close down its iTunes Movies and iBooks stores in the country, a mere six months after they opened. Reports indicated it was an attempt by the government to restrict the kind of content available to purchase in the stores.

China's strict cybersecurity laws also forced Apple to open its first data center in the region, with rules requiring foreign firms operating with its borders to store sensitive data on domestic servers ad to pass security reviews before transferring data out of the country. Apple was quick to note its data protection protocols would not be impacted by the laws, insisting there would not be any backdoors available for the government to snoop on its users.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 909member
    I love the Callkit integration with Viber.
    Screw China.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 15
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    I love the Callkit integration with Viber.
    Screw China.
    As long as Apple is allowed to continue selling Apple devices for profit in China I think they'll live with the restrictions and play nice with the government. I doubt it will be the last feature that China won't allow, but it doesn't really matter. 
    muthuk_vanalingamh2polsjony0
  • Reply 3 of 15
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    China doesn't desserve Apple. Apple gives China jobs, and China doesn't appreciate it. China needs Apple a lot more than Apple needs China.

    Without Apple, China would have nothing except Android, which makes no profit. Who do they think they are? They should kiss Apple's feet.
    bshankracerhomie3
  • Reply 4 of 15
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 909member
    gatorguy said:
    I love the Callkit integration with Viber.
    Screw China.
    As long as Apple is allowed to continue selling Apple devices for profit in China I think they'll live with the restrictions and play nice with the government. I doubt it will be the last feature that China won't allow, but it doesn't really matter. 
    The communist government is going crazy.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    nunzy said:
    China doesn't desserve Apple. Apple gives China jobs, and China doesn't appreciate it. China needs Apple a lot more than Apple needs China.

    Without Apple, China would have nothing except Android, which makes no profit. Who do they think they are? They should kiss Apple's feet.
    If Apple didn't want China money so badly they wouldn't roll over so easily whenever the government makes a request, so the evidence says you have it backwards.
    edited May 2018 nunzymuthuk_vanalingamtzm41h2pcgWerksjony0
  • Reply 6 of 15
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    gatorguy said:
    nunzy said:
    China doesn't desserve Apple. Apple gives China jobs, and China doesn't appreciate it. China needs Apple a lot more than Apple needs China.

    Without Apple, China would have nothing except Android, which makes no profit. Who do they think they are? They should kiss Apple's feet.
    If Apple didn't want China money so badly they wouldn't roll over so easily whenever the government makes a request, so the evidence says you have it backwards.
    Apple makes billions from China. But China needs Apple. Apple has plenty of money, but China is poor. Apple gives them jobs. Apple gives them legitimacy.

    If it wasn't for Apple, they would all have to kowtow to Google. They know that.
  • Reply 7 of 15
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    nunzy said:
    gatorguy said:
    nunzy said:
    China doesn't desserve Apple. Apple gives China jobs, and China doesn't appreciate it. China needs Apple a lot more than Apple needs China.

    Without Apple, China would have nothing except Android, which makes no profit. Who do they think they are? They should kiss Apple's feet.
    If Apple didn't want China money so badly they wouldn't roll over so easily whenever the government makes a request, so the evidence says you have it backwards.
    Apple makes billions from China. But China needs Apple. Apple has plenty of money, but China is poor. Apple gives them jobs. Apple gives them legitimacy.

    If it wasn't for Apple, they would all have to kowtow to Google. They know that.
    ???

    Kowtow to Google? Now I know you're writing stuff just to have a bit of fun with us. :)

    edited May 2018 muthuk_vanalingamtzm41nunzy
  • Reply 8 of 15
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 274member
    gatorguy said:
    As long as Apple is allowed to continue selling Apple devices for profit in China I think they'll live with the restrictions and play nice with the government. I doubt it will be the last feature that China won't allow, but it doesn't really matter. 

    I’m not disagreeing with what your wrote but, that’s a pretty depressing statement.  As Xi Jinping continues to unwind a lot of the freedoms that the widespread introduction of communications technology introduced to China, I wonder how far Tim Cook’s Apple is willing to go to facilitate the Communist Party’s increasing and stealthy stranglehold on its people.

    At what point does Apple say ‘no?’  Or is that the wrong question to ask?  Maybe the better question is, when will the Communist Party realize they can tell Apple to do what ever they want and Apple will roll over and comply no matter how egregious the request.

    muthuk_vanalingamh2pcornchip
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,555member
    I love the Callkit integration with Viber.
    Screw China.
    Does make you wonder if it’s really worth it. 

    Danehardin
  • Reply 10 of 15
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,288member
    nunzy said:
    China doesn't desserve Apple. Apple gives China jobs, and China doesn't appreciate it. China needs Apple a lot more than Apple needs China.

    Without Apple, China would have nothing except Android, which makes no profit. Who do they think they are? They should kiss Apple's feet.
    Last time I checked I thought that Apple’s revenue is about 30% from China. In all honesty, i don’t think that Apple accounts for 30% of China’s Economy. Hence, I don’t subscribe that China needs Apple more than vice versa. 
    muthuk_vanalingamtzm41gatorguynunzyjony0
  • Reply 11 of 15
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 117member
    nunzy said:
    China doesn't desserve Apple. Apple gives China jobs, and China doesn't appreciate it. China needs Apple a lot more than Apple needs China.

    Without Apple, China would have nothing except Android , which makes no profit. Who do they think they are? They should kiss Apple's feet.
    Last time I checked I thought that Apple’s revenue is about 30% from China. In all honesty, i don’t think that Apple accounts for 30% of China’s Economy. Hence, I don’t subscribe that China needs Apple more than vice versa. 
    Also, manufacturing in China is because it benefits Apple, not as a kind gesture to the Chinese government. Apple has a lot to gain from playing nice. Financially. Not necessarily morally.
    cgWerksmuthuk_vanalingamnunzycornchip
  • Reply 12 of 15
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,893member
    JWSC said:
    I’m not disagreeing with what your wrote but, that’s a pretty depressing statement.  As Xi Jinping continues to unwind a lot of the freedoms that the widespread introduction of communications technology introduced to China, I wonder how far Tim Cook’s Apple is willing to go to facilitate the Communist Party’s increasing and stealthy stranglehold on its people.

    At what point does Apple say ‘no?’  Or is that the wrong question to ask?  Maybe the better question is, when will the Communist Party realize they can tell Apple to do what ever they want and Apple will roll over and comply no matter how egregious the request.

    I'm guessing the bar is pretty low. I think Apple would do about anything, unless it drew too much international outrage. Ethics have become more or less postmodern in the West, so it probably doesn't even cause much cognitive dissonance.
    muthuk_vanalingamcornchip
  • Reply 13 of 15
    normmnormm Posts: 534member
    cgWerks said:
    JWSC said:
    I’m not disagreeing with what your wrote but, that’s a pretty depressing statement.  As Xi Jinping continues to unwind a lot of the freedoms that the widespread introduction of communications technology introduced to China, I wonder how far Tim Cook’s Apple is willing to go to facilitate the Communist Party’s increasing and stealthy stranglehold on its people.

    At what point does Apple say ‘no?’  Or is that the wrong question to ask?  Maybe the better question is, when will the Communist Party realize they can tell Apple to do what ever they want and Apple will roll over and comply no matter how egregious the request.

    I'm guessing the bar is pretty low. I think Apple would do about anything, unless it drew too much international outrage. Ethics have become more or less postmodern in the West, so it probably doesn't even cause much cognitive dissonance.
    The only real alternative is to stop selling iPhones in China, which still leaves people without the apps that are banned.  A lot of people in the Chinese government would probably welcome this outcome, since it would allow Chinese companies to completely take over the Chinese market.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,893member
    normm said:
    The only real alternative is to stop selling iPhones in China, which still leaves people without the apps that are banned.  A lot of people in the Chinese government would probably welcome this outcome, since it would allow Chinese companies to completely take over the Chinese market.
    Yeah, that's a fair point in terms of outcome. But, then it would be China kicking Apple out, not Apple just going along with anything China wishes.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,168member
    gatorguy said:
    I love the Callkit integration with Viber.
    Screw China.
    As long as Apple is allowed to continue selling Apple devices for profit in China I think they'll live with the restrictions and play nice with the government. I doubt it will be the last feature that China won't allow, but it doesn't really matter. 
    The communist government is going crazier.
    ftfy.
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