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Apple News disabled in China due to apparent censorship concerns

by Killian Bell | October 11, 2015October 11, 2015 11:00 am PDT

Apple-News-iOS-9

Less than a month after making its public debut, Apple News has been disabled in China. Apple is yet to confirm the move, but users visiting mainland China report they are unable to refresh Apple News to fetch new stories.

Apple News is only officially available in the U.S. for now, so those living in China do not get the app with iOS 9. However, the service is normally available to U.S. users who travel internationally — so long as their device region remains set to U.S.

But that’s not the case if you visit China, where roamers are unable to pull new stories. Apple has introduced an error message that reads, “Can’t refresh right now. News isn’t supported in your current region.”

According to a source speaking to The New York Times, Apple has taken this action to avoid China’s stringent media rules. The Cupertino company would have to censor certain stories to avoid breaking them — but it seems disabling the service is the easier option for now.

However, Apple’s decision has not been taken well by some users. Larry Salibra, co-founder of software testing service Pay4Bugs, voiced his concerns in a post on Reddit.

“They’re censoring news content that I downloaded and stored on my device purchased in the USA, before I even enter China just because my phone happens to connect to a Chinese signal floating over the border,” Salibra wrote.

On device censorship is much different than having your server blocked by the Great Firewall or not enabling a feature for customers with certain country iTunes account. That Apple has little choice doesn’t make it any less creepy or outrageous.”

We expect Apple to explain its decision as these concerns escalate, but it seems highly unlikely it will be reversed until the company can avoid breaking China’s rules.


Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...

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