Apple Removes RSS Feed Readers From Chinese App Store

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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Top Rated Comments

Marbles1 Avatar
49 months ago

Incoming youngsters who don't believe companies should comply with local laws..
Apple are typical corporate hypocrites: bang on about LGBT+ rights, human rights, devote a whole day to the issue of systemic racism faced by the black community and others, talk about respect for freedom of speech, and yet all that is irrelevant if that conflicts with making money because it 'respects local laws'.

China treats many of its ethnic minorities like cr**. It has bans on certain religious. It bans and blocks websites, news outlets, apps which speak out against the government.

So yes, as a business, if they want to operate globally, if they want to sell products in China they should comply with local laws.

But they should also stop pretending they have moral principles.

It's a conflict we all face. I'll be a lot happier if/when Apple move all manufacturing out of China and into countries that at least try to address basic human rights.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scaramoosh Avatar
49 months ago
Apple cares about equality, human rights and freedom.... unless its China, where they have have too much money to ignore, so all their Morals go out the window.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
timber Avatar
49 months ago
At some point Apple's relationship with China will face a reckoning day.

Yeah, not today. But we will get there.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
randolorian Avatar
49 months ago
They may be on to something by banning Facebook and Twitter. Those services don't seem to be having a positive impact on some democratic societies.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheRealTVGuy Avatar
49 months ago
“It's not clear why Apple waited until now to block the additional feed readers,”

To Apple’s credit here, it sounds like they’re not actively involved in seeking out offending apps. It seems more like they wait for the Chinese government to discover the apps and request their removal.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
49 months ago

Apple published ('https://www.macrumors.com/2020/09/04/apple-publishes-human-rights-policy/') 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.
How does their action of removing these apps square with this human rights policy document? Did they give themselves a loophole to make it okay, or are they just blatantly ignoring their own publicly stated values?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)