In early 2018, Apple SVP of internet software and services Eddy Cue and SVP of internet software and services Morgan Wandell instructed TV creators it had commissioned to produce content for Apple TV Plus to avoid plots and scenarios that held China and the Chinese state up in a critical light.
Buzzfeed quotes an anonymous showrunner who says this is common practice in all of Hollywood's streaming giants, who fear that upsetting the Chinese state could result in a blockade of all their offerings (China permanently blocked Apple's Ibooks and Itunes Movies in 2016 over similar concerns).
These were hardly the first of their kind. In the second half of 2018, Apple challenged or rejected just two of 56 app takedown requests from China, removing 517 apps at the government’s behest, according to the company’s transparency report. Apple said the vast majority of these apps were for porn and gambling, but it has also removed an unspecified number of virtual private networking and news apps. Apple provided customer data to the Chinese government 96% of the time when it asked about a device, and 98% of the time when it asked about an account. In the US, those numbers were around 80% and the US government did not make any app removal requests.
In September, Apple seemed to brush off the seriousness of an exploit attack directed at the Uighur ethnic minority. “The sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones ‘en masse,’” Apple said in a blog post acknowledging the attack. “The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community.”
Apple Told Some Apple TV+ Show Developers Not To Anger China [Alex Kantrowitz and John Paczkowski/Buzzfeed]
The China Law Blog (previously) reports on the kinds of questions that western businesses operating in China are raising; China's serious economic downturn and rising authoritarianism have turned the site's normally businesslike posts into a glimpse of a kind of cyberpunk stranger-than-fiction dystopia (for example).
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