Apple is reported to have removed two RSS feed reader apps from China’s App Store in compliance with Chinese law. Fiery Feeds and Reeder have both announced on Twitter that their iOS apps have been removed in China over content that is considered “illegal” in the country.
The developer of Fiery Feeds quoted a three-year old tweet from Innoreader when that RSS service was removed from the Chinese App Store back in 2017, saying: “I received the same message today. Fiery Feeds Is now no longer available on the Chinese App Store as well.”
Apple’s original message to Inoreader read:
We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that it illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines:
Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where you make them available (if you’re not sure, check with a lawyer). We know this stuff is complicated, but it is your responsibility to understand and make sure your app conforms with all local laws, not just the guidelines below. And of course, apps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior will be rejected.
While it isn’t clear why there was a three-year gap between removals of similar apps, Apple’s pulling the apps from their Chinese App Store suggests RSS can sometimes evade the virtual roadblocks thrown up by China’s Great Firewall, allowing users to view content from third-party websites that might otherwise be blocked.
The removals are just the latest in a series of disputed app removals by Apple from the Chinese App Store. The Cupertino firm is facing increasing pressure from human rights advocates and investors alike over its relationship with the Chinese government and how the company caves in to the Chinese government’s demands on a regular basis.
Apple removed the Quartz news app from the Chinese App Store last year after the government complained that the app included illegal content. The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement protests were in full swing at the time.
Apple also removes VPN apps from the Chinese App Store when instructed to by the Chinese government. Other apps that have been removed in the past include Pocket Casts, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, and others.