Apple Adopts Tighter Chinese App Store Rules, Closing Foreign App Loophole

Apple has started requiring new apps to show proof of a Chinese government license in order to be listed on the China App Store, as the company joins rival app stores that adopted the policy years earlier to meet tightening state regulations (via Reuters).

iOS App Store General Feature Dock
Apple last Friday began requiring an "internet content provider (ICP) filing" from developers when they submit new apps to be published on the local App Store. An ICP filing is the state registration system required for websites to operate legally in China.

To get the license, developers must have a company in China or work with a local publisher, a requirement that has stymied take-up by a large number of foreign apps.

Most local app stores including those operated by Tencent and Huawei have adopted the filing since at least 2017, so Apple is simply falling in line with a recently updated policy that is already established in China's software publishing industry.

China already blocks the websites of many popular western social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, but iPhone users in China have been able to download their apps from Apple's ‌App Store‌ by using unauthorized VPN services that connect them to an internet server outside the country.

Under new rules issued in July by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Apple will no longer be able to offer such apps in its China ‌App Store‌ from next July unless the app operators are registered with the government.

Chinese officials last week reportedly told Apple staff that the company must strictly implement the rules banning unregistered foreign apps, thereby closing the loophole allowing Chinese ‌iPhone‌ users to download them. Apple was said to have been told that the new rules are needed to crack down on online scams, pornography, and the circulation of information that violates China's censorship rules.

Most foreign app operators are unlikely to register with the Chinese government, because doing so would force them to comply with data transfer and censorship requirements. This will leave Apple with no choice but to remove them or face legal sanctions.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: China

Top Rated Comments

555gallardo Avatar
9 weeks ago
Ah yes. Apple defending user and human rights against their respective governments.*

*Unless government money are too lucrative to refuse.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applepotato666 Avatar
9 weeks ago

The EU could very well be following suit, given all recent directions they are moving to.
Except it's the exact opposite of that and the EU wants Europeans to be free to do what they want with their devices. There's no censorship in the equation.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sophisticatednut Avatar
9 weeks ago
?Oh look at that…. If only Apple users had the ability to circumvent the AppStore to install apps. But the AppStore is so secure and safe from any government censorship. Apple would only remove things breaking their terms of service. Pinky promise ?

Imagine if side loading was possible how the government would use it to prevent freedom somehow ?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mectojic Avatar
9 weeks ago
At least make a press statement where Tim Cook says "Until we get our entire production line out of China, we have to suck up to this censorial communist dictatorship".
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StuBeck Avatar
9 weeks ago

Ah yes. Apple defending user and human rights against their respective governments.*

*Unless government money are too lucrative to refuse.
And also requiring all apps conform to the same standards*

*Unless its Elon Musk, then he gets to do whatever he wants
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skyscraperfan Avatar
9 weeks ago
In other instances Apple always tried to avoid censorship or surveillance powers that it could be forced by authorities to use. I hope that will teach them a lesson now.

Imagine they had really implemented that child abuse filter they had planned. Of course China (an the US) would have pressured to use that filter for other purposes.

The UK is not any better than China though. They want messenger apps to break encryption in order to read messages of potential criminals. So the west is not a very good role model when it comes to consumer rights.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

iOS 17.2 Will Add These 12 New Features to Your iPhone

Friday December 1, 2023 12:19 pm PST by
iOS 17.2 has been in beta testing for over a month, and it should be released to all users in a few more weeks. The software update includes many new features and changes for iPhones, including the dozen that we have highlighted below. iOS 17.2 is expected to be released to the public in mid-December. To learn about even more features coming in the update, check out our full list. Journal ...
iOS 17

Apple Releases iOS 17.1.2 With Security Fixes

Thursday November 30, 2023 10:12 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2, small updates to the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 operating systems that Apple introduced in September. iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2 come a few weeks after the release of iOS 17.1.1, another bug fix update. iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2 can be downloaded on eligible iPhones and iPads over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update....
iOS 17

28 New Things Your iPhone Can Do in December's iOS 17.2 Update

Friday December 1, 2023 2:57 am PST by
Apple made the first beta of iOS 17.2 available to developers in October. Since then we've seen three more betas, and with each iteration Apple continues to add more new features and changes, many of which users have been anticipating for quite a while. Below, we've listed 28 new things that are coming to your iPhone when the finalized version is publicly released this December. 1. Help...
apple card 1

Apple Ending Apple Card Partnership With Goldman Sachs

Tuesday November 28, 2023 3:09 pm PST by
Apple is ending its credit card partnership with Goldman Sachs, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple plans to stop working with Goldman Sachs in the next 12 to 15 months, and it is not yet clear if Apple has established a new partnership for the Apple Card. Apple and Goldman Sachs will dissolve their entire consumer partnership, including the Apple Card and the Apple Savings account....
iOS 17

Everything New in iOS 17.2 Beta 4

Tuesday November 28, 2023 12:18 pm PST by
Apple is wrapping up development on iOS 17.2, with the update expected to come out in December. While we're getting to the end of the beta testing period, Apple is still tweaking features and adding new functionality. We've rounded up everything new in the fourth beta of iOS 17.2. Default Notification Sound Under Sounds & Haptics, there's a new "Default Alerts" section that allows you to ...
iPhone 16 Mock Header Updated 1

iPhone 16 to Include Action Button Across Entire Lineup

Thursday November 30, 2023 4:08 pm PST by
The release of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max saw the introduction of an entirely new user-configurable button known as the Action button, and now, MacRumors has seen extensive evidence confirming Apple is planning to include the Action button on the entire iPhone 16 range. Designs and plans for the Action button date back to at least 2021, as the button was intended for release alongside hapt...
anker new xmas

Anker's Cyber Week Sale Enters Final Days With Up to 60% Off Sitewide

Friday December 1, 2023 12:05 pm PST by
Anker's Black Friday/Cyber Week event is entering its final days this weekend, and it's still offering up to 60 percent off sitewide. There are also a few "mystery boxes" that can include hundreds of dollars in savings, if you're willing to risk not knowing what you're buying ahead of time. All of these sales will end on December 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Anker. When you...
paramount plus logo

Apple and Paramount Considering Discounted TV+ Streaming Bundle

Friday December 1, 2023 4:40 am PST by
Apple and Paramount have discussed bundling their TV streaming services at a discount, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The companies have talked about offering a combination of Paramount+ and Apple TV+ that would cost less than subscribing to both services separately, according to people familiar with the discussions. The discussions are in their early stages, and it is ...
General Apps Messages

Green Bubbles on iPhone to Gain These 7 New Features Next Year

Thursday November 30, 2023 9:00 am PST by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that it will finally support RCS in the Messages app on the iPhone starting later next year. This change will result in several improvements to the messaging experience between iPhones and Android devices. RCS will become the new default standard for messaging between iPhones and Android devices, but these conversations will still have green bubbles like...