Apple Removes WhatsApp and Threads from China App Store Citing Government Order

Apple Removes WhatsApp and Threads from China App Store Citing Government Order

Key Points:

  • Following a Chinese government order, Apple removed Meta Platforms apps WhatsApp and Threads from its China App Store.
  • Other Meta-owned platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger remain accessible on the China App Store.
  • The Cyberspace Administration of China cited national security concerns for removing WhatsApp and Threads.
  • Speculation suggests the removal could be related to a new rule requiring app registration with the Chinese government.

Apple announced on Friday that it had taken down Meta Platforms’ apps WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China, following an order from the Chinese government citing national security concerns. Despite removing these two apps, other Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger remain accessible in the App Store in China.

WhatsApp and Threads were removed after the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) ordered their removal, citing national security concerns as the rationale behind the directive. Apple, in response, emphasized its obligation to adhere to the laws of the countries in which it operates, even if there is disagreement.

While the reasons for the security concerns regarding WhatsApp and Threads were not immediately disclosed, some experts speculate that it could be related to a new rule implemented last August. This rule requires all apps available in China to register with the government or risk being removed. The deadline for registration was set for the end of March, with enforcement beginning on April 1.

Despite their removal from the China App Store, WhatsApp and Threads remain available for download on Apple’s other storefronts. Chinese users with iCloud accounts registered in other countries can still access and download these apps from international App Stores.

This is not the first time Apple has complied with government directives to remove apps from its China App Store. In 2017, the tech giant removed The New York Times news app, citing violations of local regulations amidst increasing news censorship in China. The app remains unavailable on Apple’s China App Store to this day. Similarly, Apple removed several ChatGPT-like apps last year from its China App Store while Beijing formulated local regulations on generative artificial intelligence (AI) services.

The removal of WhatsApp and Threads from the China App Store underscores the challenges faced by foreign tech companies operating in China, where strict government regulations and censorship measures are commonplace.

TechGolly editorial team led by Al Mahmud Al Mamun. He worked as an Editor-in-Chief at a world-leading professional research Magazine. Rasel Hossain and Enamul Kabir are supporting as Managing Editor. Our team is intercorporate with technologists, researchers, and technology writers. We have substantial knowledge and background in Information Technology (IT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Embedded Technology.

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