A new website is tracking the censorship partnership between China and Apple through the App Store.
The new site, AppleCensorship.com, allows users to check which apps are not accessible to people in China through Apple’s app store, indicating those that have been banned. It was created by researchers at GreatFire.org, an organization that monitors Chinese government internet censorship.
In late 2017, Apple admitted to U.S. senators that it had removed from its app store in China more than 600 “virtual private network” apps that allow users to evade censorship and online spying. But the company never disclosed which specific apps it removed — nor did it reveal other services it had pulled from its app store at the behest of China’s authoritarian government.
In addition to the hundreds of VPN apps, Apple is currently preventing its users in China from downloading apps from news organizations, including the New York Times, Radio Free Asia, Tibetan News, and Voice of Tibet. It is also blocking censorship circumvention tools like Tor and Psiphon; Google’s search app and Google Earth; an app called Bitter Winter, which provides information about human rights and religious freedoms in China; and an app operated by the Central Tibetan Authority, which provides information about Tibetan human rights and social issues.
Some bans – such as those of certain VPN apps and the Times – have received media coverage in the past, but many never generate news headlines. Charlie Smith, a co-founder of GreatFire.org, told The Intercept that the group was motivated to launch the website because “Apple provides little transparency into what it censors in its app store. Most developers find out their app has been censored after they see a drop in China traffic and try to figure out if there is a problem. We wanted to bring transparency to what they are censoring.”
This is going to be an interesting source moving forward to track what Apps the Chinese Government is planning on having Apple Censor.
We will continue to cover this story as we learn more…..