Apple has pulled the Tripadvisor app from its China App Store on the orders of the Chinese government as it works to “clean up” the internet, CNN reports.
The Tripadvisor app, which somehow ran afoul of the government, was one of 105 apps deemed to be illegal. Since the Tripadvisor app is mainly concerned with hotel reviews, its removal seems more than a little surprising. However, it’s far from the first app to get the boot from the localized China App Store.
According to CNN, the app clean up campaign is supposedly aimed at getting rid of apps that break Chinese laws. These are apps involving illegal activities such as obscenity, pornography, prostitution, violence, fraud and gambling. (And, possibly, reviews of hotel breakfasts?)
“The Cyberspace Administration of China will continue to … strengthen the supervision and inspection of mobile apps’ information services, promptly clean up and dispose of illegal mobile applications and application stores, and strive to create a clear cyberspace,” the agency responsible for the decision said in a statement.
China’s App Store crackdown
This is far from the first time Apple has had to remove apps from the China App Store. In 2017 Apple was made to remove Skype from its App Store in China. In summer 2018 Apple then removed a massive 25,000 apps because they broke Chinese laws. A large number of these apps related to gambling. Later that same year, Apple removed several hundred more apps.
Perhaps most controversially Apple booted out an app used by protesters in Hong Kong called Hkmap Live. This app used reports from a Telegram group to track the whereabouts of police and protesters.
The situation is a difficult one for Apple to navigate. It does a huge amount of its business in China, and has been made to abide by plenty of less-than-ideals rules itself. (For example, it has had to accept the Chinese government’s demands that it run network safety evaluations on products prior to them being imported.) If Apple fails to abide by Chinese laws — or requests that it remove certain apps — it could face major penalties itself.
The Tripadvisor app is available outside of China. If you want to download it and try and figure out what the potential moral danger it poses might be, that is!