Censorship of the iTunes Store

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Censorship of the iTunes Store refers to external attempts at blocking access to digital content distributed through the iTunes Store.


In 2010, the Australian Labor Party announced its intent to subject the 220,000 mobile apps available on the Australia App Store to Australian Classification Board regulations, which require that developers pay evaluation fees ranging from $470 to $2040.[1] A 2011 article in the Sydney Morning Herald clarified that "Australians will soon be able to complain about mobile game apps they take offence to and get them removed from app stores such as Apple's iTunes if they're deemed 'refused classification'. And if mobile game apps are classified anything above MA15+ and the government doesn't introduce an R18+ games classification (which it plans to vote on in July), then any game app rated over MA15+ will also be refused classification." Sentiments were also expressed over other apps: "What is unclear, however, is how the Classification Board will classify apps that aren't necessarily games like Grindr, an app for gay users which uses [GPS] to find nearby males".[2]


The China App Store was affected by connection-level censorship until an unknown point in time when Apple enabled a HTTPS-by-default configuration.[3] Searches for 'VPN', for example, would cause the connection to be reset.[3]

According to the Global Times, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on 13 December 2012 that it planned to "strengthen regulation of China's mobile applications market" in the near future.[4] The Shanghai-based IT Times quoted Chen Jinqiao as saying that the plans included "[bringing] app developers under supervision and [establishing] a real-name registration system for independent developers.[4]

In 2013, Apple pulled several apps from the China App Store for containing books banned by the government.[5][6] Several apps enabling users to bypass the Great Firewall and access restricted sites in China were also removed later.[7] The Apple News application bundled with iOS 9 is disabled in China for all users as well, of which all contents, including the articles already downloaded to the device, are not available to read in China.[8]

Apple's iBooks and iTunes Movies, available in China since September 2015, were both shut down in China in April 2016, less than seven months after the launch.[9][10] The services were disabled by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China after the authority introduced regulations imposing strict curbs on online publishing, particularly for foreign firms.[10][11][12][13] Apple said in response that they hope to restore the services in China "as soon as possible".[10][13]


  1. ^ Bodey, Michael (16 August 2010). "Apps and games to face censor, says ALP". The Australian. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  2. ^ Grubb, Ben (9 March 2011). "Government to censor iTunes app store". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b Muncaster, Phil (21 December 2012). "Apple shifts iTunes to HTTPS, sidesteps China's censors". The Register. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  4. ^ a b Yang, Chen (13 December 2012). "MIIT to tighten app regulations". Global Times. People's Daily. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Apple Pulls Bookstore App in China Over Illegal Content, FT Says". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  6. ^ Anderlini, Jamil (4 April 2013). "Apple bars China app for 'illegal' content". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  7. ^ CNN, By Tim Hume and Feng Ke. "Apple slammed in China for pulling firewall-busting app OpenDoor - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Apple has disabled the Apple News app in China". Business Insider. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Apple – Press Info – Apple Brings Apple Music, iTunes Movies & iBooks to Customers in China Starting Today". www.apple.com. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "Apple's iBooks store and iTunes movie services go dark in China". Business Insider. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  11. ^ Mozur, Paul; Perlez, Jane (21 April 2016). "Apple No Longer Immune to China's Scrutiny of U.S. Tech Firms". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Apple's iTunes Movies, iBooks Store reportedly shut down in China". VentureBeat. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Apple says iTunes Movies, iBooks services closed down in China". The Business Times. Retrieved 22 April 2016.