The development underscores the strict rules companies have to comply in to operate in China with Beijing’s regulator trying to create a cyberspace with enhanced censorship policies.
Apple has stated it has withdrawn lottery apps from its App Store in China midst tightening regulations and a barrage of criticism from China’s state media.
According to China’s regulator, Apple has pulled 25,000 apps from its App Store in China. Although confirmed the removal of gambling apps from its store, it did not confirm the number of apps or a timeline for the removals.
“We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” said Apple in a statement.
On Sunday, China’s State broadcaster CCTV had criticized Apple Inc’s management Sunday for allowing gambling apps on its platform. Such apps are banned in China. This was the second time CCTV has targeted Apple over the apps.
Recently, Beijing’s Official media also came down heavily on Apple’s iMessage service in the country saying its refusal to monitor communications is a hindrance to authorities.
2017 saw Apple removing hundreds of virtual private network (VPN) apps from its App Store due to requests from regulators. Users can use VPNs to bypass China’s Great Firewall and access foreign social media content – this is largely banned in China.
App stores run by Chinese companies including Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd are required to remove foreign content and gambling apps from their platform.
Apple has been subject to increasingly strict rules regarding its content in China amid a wider effort by regulators to create a “clean” cyberspace, which includes enhanced censorship policies.
Earlier this year the company moved cryptographic keys for its iCloud service to China under new legal requirements, raising human rights fears as the country is introducing increasingly strict digital surveillance measures.