Apple has pulled another app from the App Store China, the Damus app by Nostr. The app was removed at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
Nostr is an open-source protocol run by developers. It is not a company and does not have a CEO, board, or server. Without the requirement to create an account, the protocol allows users to create their own social networking platforms like Twitter or anything completely novel for communication with end-to-end encryption protection and no data collection.
Earlier this week, Apple launched Damus app on its App Store for iOS and iPadOS which lets users access Nostr, a Twitter-like service. The app got approved after a series of rejections because the review team vetted it through the guidelines of a social networking service when it is more like a web browser where the developers do not control the content and take responsibility.
Apple claims Notre Damus app contained content that is illegal in China
Developer of Nostr’s Damus app on iOS, William Casarin shared the screenshot of the notification he received from Apple which stated that his app was removed from App Store China on demand of CAC over the alleged violation of its guidelines.
We are writing to notify you that your application, per demand from the CAC (Cyberspace Administration of China), will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines:
Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where you make them available (if you’re not sure, check with a lawyer). We know this stuff is complicated, but it is your responsibility to understand and make sure your app conforms with all local laws, not just the guidelines below. And of course, apps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior will be rejected.
According to the CAC, your app violates the Provisions on the Security Assessment of Internetbased Information Services with Attribute of Public Opinions or Capable of Social Mobilization.
The tech giant is already under pressure from investors to comply with the authoritarian requests of the Chinese government which threaten freedom of expression. Although Apple has promised more transparency in app removal, the company continues to do so without any legal ground or evidence.
Previously, the company removed a religious ‘Quran Majeed’ app with a million users from China App Store at the government’s request but continued to host apps from a blacklisted Chinese paramilitary group responsible for the Uyghur Muslims genocide in Xinjiang. It also removed 39,000 video games in 2021.