Apple appears to be censoring content already downloaded to customers’ phones when those customers visit mainland China.
Rather than complying with the country’s draconian censorship rules by censoring certain content, the company disables the app altogether when it detects that the user is in China.
All users see is a blank news feed and the message: “Can’t refresh right now. News isn’t supported in your current region.”
The News app has initially been launched only in the US, with the UK and Australia to follow soon. However, customers can still use it abroad as long as the phone’s region is set to the US – unless they visit China, that is.
And according to the person who first noticed the issue – Larry Salibra, founder of software testing service Pay4Bugs – Apple isn’t just preventing customers from carrying out downloads.
“They’re censoring news content that I downloaded and stored on my device purchased in the USA, before I even enter China just because my phone happens to connect to a Chinese signal floating over the border,” he comments on Reddit.
“On device censorship is much different than having your server blocked by the Great Firewall or not enabling a feature for customers with certain country iTunes account. That Apple has little choice doesn’t make it any less creepy or outrageous.”
Text: Forbes by Emma Woollacott 12-10-2015