Apple removed Damus from the Chinese App Store following an absurd government allegation

Apple removed Damus from the Chinese App Store following an absurd government allegation

Yesterday, Apple pulled Damus from the App Store in China, informing the developers that the app contained content that was illegal in the region. Damus is an iPhone app that allows users to access Nostr, an open protocol that can be used to build a variety of services, most notably a Twitter-like social media network.

Unlike other social media networks, Nostr is not owned or controlled by any tech company. Any user can broadcast messages to either their friends or everyone, and this freedom is what Damus provided through its Twitter-like look and feel.

Although Damus had been previously rejected multiple times by Apple, it finally made it onto the App Store this week. Unfortunately, the company quickly pulled it again after determining that the content was illegal. This decision has left many users disappointed and frustrated, as the app was providing access to a platform with no control or responsibility in regards to the content of its feeds.

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.

Apple finds itself stuck in the middle yet again, this time concerning the controversial decision to ban the app Nostr, which is run without an accompanying company. In response, 9to5Mac disagrees with the assumption that this app contains any illegal content. This disagreement is akin to banning Safari because it can access websites of terrorist organizations, an absurd idea in itself.

Although, as Casarin's allusion to the situation implies, this move by the Chinese government is expected, as it wants full control over the information its citizens can access. This is an understandable desire, but it is still troubling that any government would seek to control what its people can and cannot see.

Apple, with its reliance on China as both a manufacturer and consumer, must carefully consider what sanctions it could face if it were to ignore any orders by the Chinese government. It is a tricky situation, with no clear-cut solution and no easy way out.

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