What’s going on with Apple’s iOS news app in China? It’s unavailable. That by itself is not surprising the only place available officially is in the USA though tests are said to be underway in Australia and the UK.  Let’s say though that you have an iPhone or iPad purchased in the states and that that device had the news app downloaded in the states, then taken to China that news app on the US device will not work in China or near it even depending on how near near is.

Software developer Larry Salibra  details what he calls Apples China kill switch.  A method of shutting off specific services based not on location.  The developer conducted tests at a river crossing between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland to find Apple blocking news access not on the device geolocation or IP basis but by local cellular network.

No to split here, you whether you got location services on being a Chinese cellular network kinda gives away your location doesn’t it ?

I mean borders to get difficult I know I’ve been at Niagara Falls New York and suddenly I’m picking up Rogers or tellus a couple of Canadian carriers and across the falls where I’m not standing and it’s that censorship by proximity that bothers Salibra.

Quoting his post

what worries me is the mechanism Apple uses to disable the news app and Apple maps uses the location of the user to change the behavior of their device without their permission even if the location service is disabled in the privacy settings

Another piece of his post which reads

..their censoring news content that I downloaded and stored on my device purchased in the USA before I even entered China just because my phone happens to connect to a Chinese signal floating over the border.

On device censorship is much different than having your server blocked by the great firewall or not enabling a feature for customers with certain country iTunes account that Apple has little choice doesn’t make it any less creepy or outrageous if Apple has no choice in creepy sure but outrageous.

If Apple has no choice officially Apple seems to have said nothing around the issue.  The New York Times reports that Apple confirmed off the record that it is indeed turning off Apple news in mainland China.

The New York Times is citing a person with direct knowledge of the situation so that person is never identified explicitly as an Apple exec or employee the times does state one thing explicitly though, referring to the news issue is the most recent sign of how difficult it can be for foreign companies to manage the strict rules governing media and online expression in China.

China’s got 1 billion people Apple wants to sell to as many of those people as possible it’s going to abide by whatever laws and rules it has to do that One hopes that Apple hopes it can affect change along the way in the meantime it’s building stores and selling stuff companies that deal in China will have to abide by China’s laws and rules and people go to China will have to abide by China’s laws and rules as well.


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