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Apple reveals Chinese app crackdown

| By iGB Editorial Team
Tech giant has withdrawn at least 4,000 apps from its Chinese store

US technology company Apple has withdrawn thousands of gambling apps from its Chinese store amid criticism that it was failing to meet regulations concerning banned content.

Apple has come under attack from state media including broadcaster CCTV for hosting illegal and fake lottery-ticket apps. CCTV yesterday (Sunday) reported that Apple cut at least 4,000 apps tagged with the keyword “gambling” on August 9 alone.

China represents Apple’s biggest market outside the US and the company has acted in partnership with the Chinese government in order to reinforce its efforts in assessing all forms of online content, according to reports.

In a statement reported by the Bloomberg news agency, Apple said: “Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China. We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.”

The South China Morning Post newspaper, citing CCTV, added that Apple had removed 500 apps which included the keyword “lottery” in their names between July 31 and August 13, as well as more than 4,000 other apps.

CCTV reported yesterday: “Apple established the rules for allowing apps onto its store, but it did not follow them, which has resulted in a proliferation of fake lottery apps and gambling apps.”

Apple did not respond to a request for further details by iGamingBusiness.com. However, this is not the first time that the tech giant has become tangled in regulatory matters in China.

In 2013, Bloomberg noted Apple was forced to apologise and adjust its customer policy after CCTV accused the firm of poor service standards. Meanwhile, Apple last year removed hundreds of virtual private network apps amid criticism concerning tools used to bypass internet censors.

Earlier this month, a number of developers accused Apple of wrongly removing their apps from its App Store as part of the company’s clampdown on gambling content.

Apple contacted certain developers to inform them their apps would be taken down to “reduce fraudulent activity… and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity”.

However, the companies in question took to social media to stress that their apps were not related to gambling. The affected apps included Polish app iMagazine, gif-sharing service Gifferent and a platform that permits users to send clips of Xbox games to friends.

Apple also recently began dropping certain gambling apps from the App Store in response to a request from the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA).

The NGA contacted Apple to say unlicensed apps must be removed in Norway in order to comply with national regulation and to support its ongoing efforts to tackle problem gambling.

The company has also previously taken similar steps in other countries, including the Netherlands and Sweden.

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