Apple has removed Pocket Casts, a popular iOS and Android podcast app, from the App Store in China. The Cyberspace Administration of China discovered that the podcast app can be used to access illegal content in the country. As a result of their findings, the Administration demanded Apple to remove Pocket Casts from China’s App Store.
Apple released an official statement addressing the issue on Twitter which reads:
“Pocket Casts has been removed from the Chinese App store by Apple, at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China. We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship. As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request.” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Pocket Casts team continued to explain that:
“We understand this means that it’s unlikely that our iOS App will be available in China, but feel it’s a necessary step to take for any company that values the open distribution model that makes podcasting special.”
Pocket Casts Team’s Response
In an exclusive interview with the The Verge, Pocket Casts team did not mention which content on its platform violated Chinese law, but did explain that the team reach out to the Cyberspace Administration of China to find out why their app was set to be removed from China’s App Store. The app was removed two days after Apple contacted the team of Pocket Casts.
“The very small amount of warning we were given between there being a problem, and our app being completely removed from the Chinese app store was quite alarming,” a Pocket Casts representative told TechCrunch.
On Twitter, the Pocket Casts team revealed that they did reach out to the Cyberspace Administration of China. But, they were still given the same response that they got from Apple. The overall reason given for removing their app from China’s App Store was that they “include content that is illegal in China as determined by the CAC”
Another iPhone podcast app Castro was also recently removed from China’s App Store. When asked why was the podcast was removed on Twitter, the Castro Podcasts team speculated that it might have happened because of their support of protests on their app.
We think it might have been our support of the protests in the Discover tab. We were not given specifics.
— Castro Podcasts (@CastroPodcasts) June 7, 2020
Pocket Casts is a censorship-free platform that was rapidly gaining popularity in China. Since foreign podcasts are banned in China, it was expected that with Apple being allowed to show foreign content in China, the restrictions around podcasts would be eased. Apple is a big company with a lot of influence but the recent removal of some of China’s most popular podcasts has shown that censorship-free content is still restricted in the country.
However, it is still unlikely that Pocket Casts will be returning to China’s App Store anytime soon.