Apple is once again in trouble with the Chinese government, this time for allegedly distributing pornography through its websites and App Store. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Apple appeared in the People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, on a list of 198 companies under investigation for offering illicit material on the Chinese Internet.
Some worry this may mark the beginning of another Chinese campaign against Apple to encourage the sale of homegrown products. In late March, the People’s Daily ran an op-ed with the headline, “Destroy Apple’s Unparalleled Arrogance,” and criticized the U.S. technology giant for not offering a fair warranty on products it ships to China. After a few weeks, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an official apology and promised to improve services in the region.
The People’s Daily piece doesn’t play up Apple’s inclusion on the blacklist, but it also doesn’t make clear what Apple published that is considered pornography.
Chinese censors have put a lot of effort into keeping porn off the Internet in China, along with political dissent. In addition to shutting down websites and launching campaigns, China has made chief executives of digital media companies pledge to make efforts against adult content. There is also the possibility that China is using the allegation as a way to pressure Apple to remove “politically sensitive” content, which it has occasionally done in the past.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see which app (Grindr?) has drawn the ire of Chinese censors.