Tue, Aug 21, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Apple rids Chinese store of gambling apps after criticism


Apple Inc has pulled thousands of gambling apps from its Chinese store after state-run China Central Television (CCTV) accused the smartphone maker of dragging its feet on cleaning up banned content.

Government-controlled media including CCTV this month accused Apple of hosting illegal and fake lottery ticket apps, which they said resulted in massive losses for hoodwinked users.

On Sunday, CCTV reported that Apple pulled at least 4,000 apps tagged with the keyword “gambling” on Aug. 9 alone.

The US company confirmed the action and said that it was simply complying with regulations.

However, the incident underscores both Beijing’s resurgent crackdown on all forms of online content from games to social media and video services, and the difficulties facing foreign companies that do business in the world’s second-largest economy.

“Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China,” Apple said in an e-mailed statement. “We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.”

The US company has much at stake in China, its largest market after the US, as well as the main production base for the world’s iPhones and iPads.

Its market position has come under attack from a coterie of savvy domestic players, from Huawei Technologies Co (華為) to Xiaomi Corp (小米), which offer users more locally oriented services.

The heightened scrutiny by government regulators coincides with an escalating trade war with the US, which has levied punitive tariffs on Chinese goods in what is regarded as an attempt to counter the Asian country’s ascendancy.

The fear is that growing tensions could eventually spur Chinese consumers to boycott US goods, although that has not emerged on a large scale.

While thousands of apps is a drop in the ocean for Apple, its response demonstrates the tricky position that foreign firms find themselves in when operating in a country that can be unpredictable in the way it polices content.

Apple has run afoul of Chinese regulators before. In 2013, it was forced to apologize and tweak its customer policy after CCTV accused the company of poor service standards.

Last year, it was forced to take down hundreds of virtual private network apps in response to criticism about tools to bypass Internet censors.

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