Apple Bows To Chinese Censorship Demands
from the tibet-or-not-tibet dept
It isn't news that Apple's app store is a garden with some mighty high, awfully arbitrary walls. Whether Apple is rejecting developer's apps on the grounds of profanity or subject matter, the fact is that the reasoning for these takedowns is a thinly veiled form of what I call "Apple morality". Swearing is bad for kids, or kids shouldn't have access to games about war. Definitely no nudity. These, business practices or not, are all moral claims. We might disagree with their version of morality, but that's what it is.
Which is why I'd be curious to hear Apple's reasoning for taking down an app in China that allowed users to read books about Tibet. The company claimed that they did so because that content is illegal in China, of course.
The app, "jingdian shucheng", offered access to ten books via the iPhone and iPad. Mr Hao said he believed three titles by Wang Lixiong, a political writer and activist, had prompted the ban, according to The Financial Times. Mr Wang is a prominent critic of Chinese policy in Tibet.Here's the problem: if you're going to take a moral stance in the rest of the world, you need to take one in China as well. Bowing to pressures to censor speech in China would not square with any flavor of morality. On the other hand, were Apple to stick to their "it's illegal" reason for taking the app down, then they need to come out and explain the other examples of takedowns above, since those are not illegal. It seems to me that Apple wants to apply their "Apple morality" everywhere...until a dollar is introduced.
Concern over Apple’s weakness in the booming Chinese smartphone market has been seen by investors as a potential problem for its continued growth. It has been a major cause of a share price slump in recent months that has forced Mr Cook to repeatedly defend his strategy. The firm has been repeatedly rumoured to be developing a cheaper iPhone designed to court Chinese consumers but it has not yet revealed its plans.In other words, rather than try to push the Chinese to stop censoring, as others have, Apple is selling their convictions down the Huang He river in favor of money. Nice going, guys.