Amazon’s audiobook service Audible and Phone apps for reading the holy books of Islam and Christianity have disappeared from the Apple Store in mainland China, the latest examples of the impact of the country’s stringent regulations on Internet firms.
Makers of apps for reading and listening to the Quran and Bible say that their apps have also been removed from Apple’s China-based store at the request of the government.
Apple did not return a request for comment on Friday. A spokesman for China’s embassy in the US declined to speak about the removal of the specific app, but said the Chinese government “has always encouraged and supported the development of the Internet.”
“At the same time, the development of the Internet in China must also comply with Chinese laws and regulations,” Liu Pengyu said in an emailed statement.
China’s government has long sought to control the flow of information online, but is increasingly expanding its enforcement of the Internet sector in other ways, making it difficult to determine the reasons for the removal of a particular app. .
Chinese regulators this year sought to tighten data privacy restrictions and limit the amount of time children play video games. They are also exerting greater control over the algorithms used by tech firms to personalize and recommend content.
Popular US language-learning app Duolingo disappeared from Apple’s China Store over the summer, as have many video game apps. What appears to link Audible to religious apps is that everyone was recently informed of permit requirements for published content.
Pakistan Data Management Services, which makes the Quran Majeed app, said it is awaiting further information from the Internet Authority of China on how it can be restored. The Karachi-based company said the app has around 1 million users in China and around 40 million worldwide.
Hassan Shafiq Ahmed, the company’s head of growth and relationships, said people who had already downloaded the app can still use it.
“We are trying to find out what documents are needed to obtain approval from the Chinese authorities so that the app can be restored,” he said in an email.
The maker of the Bible app said it removed it from the Apple Store in China after learning from Apple app Store The review process is that it requires special permission to distribute an app with “book or magazine content”. App on the App Store in China and continue to distribute the Bible around the world.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Apple’s actions, saying the company was enabling religious persecution of China’s Muslims and others.
“This decision must be reversed. If American corporations do not raise the backbone and stand up to China now, they will be able to spend the next century on their side,” said a statement by CAIR’s national deputy director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. A fascist superpower.”
The removals were first detected this week by watchdog website AppleCensorship, which monitors Apple’s App Store to track when apps have been blocked, especially under authoritarian governments in China and other countries. with.
This week, Microsoft Said it would close its main linkedin service in China later this year, citing a “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China”.
Unlike LinkedIn, which has been offering an exclusive Chinese service since 2014, heroine-Proprietary Audible said it does not have a dedicated service for customers in China.