China’s internet regulator has suddenly removed more than 100 apps from one of the country’s online stores, including one associated with the US travel website TripAdvisor. The Cyberspace Administration of China alleges that the apps breached one or more of three online laws, but declined to outline the violation for each particular app.
The purge of China’s app ecosystem is part of a government campaign to remove content that it deems to be connected to pornography, prostitution, gambling, or violence. The online authority began its campaign on November 5 and claims to be acting on cues from the general public, removing apps that are deemed offensive.
The majority of the 105 apps that have been removed belong to local Chinese firms and it remains unclear why TripAdvisor has been caught up in the crackdown. As of the time of writing, TripAdvisor’s website was still accessible in China.
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Finding a way back
Although the actions of China’s Cyberspace Administration are sudden, they are not surprising. China takes a hardline approach regarding its online regulations and companies, regardless of how large or where they are located, must fall into line.
Chinese citizens have had to get used to an online ecosystem that does not include many of the well-known applications that we take for granted in the West. The likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Gmail are all blocked in the country, hidden behind the so-called “Great Firewall.”
It remains unclear if there is a way back for TripAdvisor and the other apps but punishments are not often permanent. In 2018, for example, the app owned by hotel group Marriot was blocked for a week after the company listed Macao and Hong Kong as separate countries, rather than Chines territories.
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Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services. After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.