Apple Removes RSS Feed Readers From Chinese App Store

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Apple has reportedly removed two RSS feed reader apps from China’s App Store to comply with Chinese law. Fiery Feeds and Reeder both tweeted that their iOS apps had been removed in China over content that is considered “illegal” in the country.


Fiery Feeds quoted a three-year-old tweet from Inoreader, a similar RRS service that was banned from Apple’s Chinese ‌App Store‌ back in 2017 and had its entire service blocked in the country in April. 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:

5. Legal
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.

It’s not clear why Apple waited until now to block the additional feed readers, but the fact that it pulled these apps at all suggests RSS readers can sometimes circumvent China’s Great Firewall and pull in content from third-party websites that are otherwise on its blocked list.

Apple has faced increasing pressure from investors and human rights activists about its relationship with China and its tendency to comply with Beijing’s demands. Last year, for example, Apple removed the app of news outlet Quartz from China’s ‌‌‌App Store‌‌‌ after complaints from the government that it included content that is illegal in the country. The app was covering the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement protests at the time.

Apple has also been forced to remove many VPN apps from the ‌‌‌App Store‌‌‌ in China due to the administration’s regulations. Other apps affected in the past include WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and the New York Times app.

Earlier this month, Apple published a human rights policy document that commits to “freedom of information and expression,” following years of criticism from investors that it shows too much deference to Beijing and accedes to China’s censorship demands.

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