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September 21, 2018

Apple removes 25,000 illegal gambling apps from China store after state pressure

A woman looks at the screen of her mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. /REUTERS
A woman looks at the screen of her mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. /REUTERS

Apple has pulled illegal lottery apps from its App Store in China amid tightening regulation and a barrage of criticism from state media.

According to state media, the company has recently removed around 25,000 apps from its Chinese store in an effort to cooperate the regime.

Apple confirmed it has recently removed gambling apps from its store, but did not confirm the number of apps or a timeline for the removals.

"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," Apple said in a statement.

State broadcaster CCTV criticised the US company's management on Sunday for allowing gambling apps, which are banned in China. 

It's the second time the broadcaster has targeted the firm in the past month over the apps.

Official media has also recently criticised the company's iMessage service in China, saying the company's refusal to monitor communications is a hindrance to authorities.

Last year, Apple began removing hundreds of virtual private network (VPN) apps on request from regulators. 

The apps help users bypass China's Great Firewall and access foreign social media and news, which are largely banned in China.

App stores run by other companies, including Baidu and Tencent, are also required to remove banned foreign content and gambling apps.

Apple's App Store is the only major foreign-run app platform in China, where competitors - including Alphabet Inc's Google Play store - are banned.

Apple has been subject to increasingly strict rules regarding its content in China amid a wider effort by regulators to create a 'clean' cyberspace, which includes enhanced censorship policies.

Earlier this year the company moved cryptographic keys for its iCloud service to China under new legal requirements, raising human rights fears as the country is introducing increasingly strict digital surveillance measures.

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