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Business News/ Technology / App News/  Apple removes Meta's WhatsApp, Threads from iOS store as China flags security concerns
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Apple removes Meta's WhatsApp, Threads from iOS store as China flags security concerns

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is tightening its grip on information flow.The move is just a step in a broader effort to control online content, forcing domestic and foreign companies to restrict access to information deemed politically sensitive by China.

WhatsApp and Thread were removed under the program aimed to remove unregistered or inactive apps from app stores like Apple's app store and Google's Play store. (Reuters)Premium
WhatsApp and Thread were removed under the program aimed to remove unregistered or inactive apps from app stores like Apple's app store and Google's Play store. (Reuters)

Apple removed Meta Platforms' WhatsApp and Threads from its China apps store following an order by the country’s internet regulator, which said the services pose risks to the country’s security, on April 19.

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree. The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns," Apple said in a statement, Bloomberg reported. “These apps remain available for download on all other storefronts where they appear," it said.

The move follows a government cleanup initiative launched in 2023, which aimed to remove unregistered or inactive apps from app stores like Apple's app store and Google's play store.

In August, Chinese authorities tightened the grip on information flow by directing all mobile app developers to register with the government by March 2024. They justified this move as a way to fight phone scams and financial fraud.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that it would carry out supervision work on those filings from April to June, and take action against apps that were not registered. App developers would also be required to set up and improve mechanisms to handle “illegal information."

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is tightening its grip on information flow. The recent app store order is just a step in a broader effort to control online content, forcing domestic and foreign companies to restrict access to information deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government. Similar restrictions have already been placed on websites and large language models (AI systems that can generate text), as per a Bloomberg report.

Apple has a major presence in China, with its largest market outside the US and its primary production base located in the country. CEO Tim Cook recently visited China, highlighting its importance to Apple's business. The company has always maintained that it needs to comply with local laws to operate its app store effectively in different countries, the report added.

(With Inputs from Bloomberg)

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Published: 19 Apr 2024, 09:17 AM IST
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