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Apple on Wednesday removed popular podcasting app Pocket Casts from the Chinese App Store, with the platform’s developers saying the removal was initiated by the government’s cyber surveillance agency.
Pocket Casts, which enjoys a large audience as a cross-platform podcast discovery and reading platform, announced its removal from the Chinese App Store in a Tweeter today.
“Pocket Casts has been removed from the Chinese App Store by Apple, at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China,” the tweet read.
In a separate tweet, the company said Apple relayed a message from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) earlier this week. Details of the notice were not reported. The CAC has in the past issued warnings to app makers about in-app content that it deems to violate local and state cybersecurity laws.
Pocket Casts calls the removal of the App Store censorship, a refrain often repeated by other companies that have suffered a similar fate.
“We believe that podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free from government censorship. As such, we will not censor podcast content at their request,” the company said.
Why Pocket Casts stood out among the dozens of podcast players available on iOS is unknown.
Apple has not issued a press release on this subject.
The tech giant’s obsequious relationship with the CAC is often the target of criticism from free speech advocates and human rights groups. While presenting itself as a strong advocate for human rights causes, Apple regularly addresses the Chinese government, a body that controls the keys to a huge and largely untapped consumer market.
At the end of 2016, Apple removed the official version New York Times app from the Chinese App Store after authorities claimed it violated unspecified local laws. About six months later, Apple pulled several virtual private network (VPN) apps that threatened to break through China’s “Great Firewall.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the HKmap.live kerfuffle in a letter to employees, saying at the time that the app violated Hong Kong law because it was allegedly used to maliciously target people. police and victimize individuals in areas where no police were present.