In accordance with a request from Chinese authorities, Apple was forced to take down news apps created by The New York Times from China's App Store late last month.
The order by China's government and Apple's compliance shows that the censorship enforced by the Asian country's government on newspapers and websites based in the United States is still in full effect.
Apple Pulls Out New York Times From China App Store
According to the report by The New York Times, Apple took down both the English and Chinese versions of the publication's app from China's App Store on Dec. 23.
The move further limits the means for users in mainland China to read The New York Times without having to resort to special software. Apps by other international publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, however, remain available in China's App Store.
News apps by The New York Times remain available in Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, for users to be able to download them, they need to have a credit card with a billing address not within mainland China. The virtual reality and crossword puzzle apps of the company, however, remain available in China.
Why Did Apple Take Down The New York Times Apps?
"For some time now the New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and we have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations," said Apple in a statement, adding that if the situation would change, then the apps taken down will once again be added to China's App Store.
Apple, however, declined to reveal how the government requested the takedown of the apps, when the request was received by Apple, and most importantly, the specific laws that the apps of The New York Times allegedly violated.
China's Censorship In Full Effect
The ruling Communist Party of China has a tight grip on media within the country and utilizes one of the most sophisticated systems of online censorship in the world, dubbed the Great Firewall of China. Chinese law prevents the release of "harmful information" on the internet, with officials able to take down online content that they see as such without the need to go through legal procedures.
There are some readers in China who are still able to read The New York Times, though, through software that bypasses the firewall put up by the government. In July 2015, the publication released a version of its Chinese app that utilized a different way of retrieving articles that was not controlled by the Chinese government.
The Chinese-language app should not affect users who have already previously downloaded it, but for readers to receive new content, they would need to use the App Store of another region.
A spokeswoman for The New York Times, Eileen Murphy, said that the requested takedown by China's government to remove the publication's apps is a part of the bigger initiative of preventing users in the country from accessing news coverage of China by The New York Times.
The New York Times was working on several articles covering China's government before its apps were pulled out, one of which, posted Dec. 29, revealed billions of dollars' worth of hidden subsidies and perks being provided by the government to the biggest iPhone factory in the world.