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China Apple

Activists Angry After Apple Axes Anti-Firewall App 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-the-world-walled-web dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "BBC reports that Chinese web users are criticizing Apple after the company pulled a free iPhone app called OpenDoor, which enables users to bypass firewalls and access restricted internet sites. The developers of OpenDoor — who wish to remain anonymous — told Radio Netherlands that Apple removed the app because it 'includes content that is illegal in China.' 'It is unclear to us how a simple browser app could include illegal contents, since it's the user's own choosing of what websites to view,' say the developers. 'Using the same definition, wouldn't all browser apps, including Apple's own Safari and Google's Chrome, include illegal contents?' Chinese internet users were disappointed by the move by Apple. Zhou Shuguang, a prominent Chinese blogger and citizen journalist, told U.S.-based Radio Free Asia that Apple had taken away one of the tools which internet users in China relied on to circumvent the country's great firewall. 'Apple is determined to have a share of the huge cake which is the Chinese internet market. Without strict self-censorship, it cannot enter the Chinese market,' says one Chinese user disappointed by the move by Apple."
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Activists Angry After Apple Axes Anti-Firewall App

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  • I wonder.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andreas . (2995185) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:02AM (#45035887)
    How much financial pressure did the chinese regime give Apple? (Fines / Bribe / Loss of Market)
    • Re: I wonder.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by andy_spoo (2653245) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:12AM (#45036031)
      Apple are pretty much control freaks at the best of times. But you expect to be controlled one way or another if you buy in to a closed OS. And the US is just as controlling as China when they demand back doors to be included in security products to bypass encryption to spy on your data. If you think your in anyway living in a free country, no matter where you live, , then you must be high on something.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Am sure it could have been quite a bit. They could have said they'd make it impossible to manufacture more iDevices in the country. Dragging the factories to a stop in red tape. It would be quite a hit to apples reputation to not have any new devices to sell for a couple of months.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)

        It would be quite a hit to apples reputation

        On the contrary, in light of all the press mainstream media is giving government spying and restrictions on the internet, taking a volume hit as they move production outside of China, because they refused to deny an application that offered privacy and universal access to the internet, could be spun off as an absolutely massive PR campaign. "Feel good about buying Apple products, because we're helping you stick it to the man."

        • by swamp_ig (466489)

          "Feel good about buying Apple products, because we're helping you stick it to the man."

          Cool! So that's an open invitation to jailbreak their devices and develop a secondary resale market for itunes purchases then?

          Why would apple want anyone to stick it to the man?

    • Re:I wonder.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Blue Stone (582566) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:21AM (#45036147) Homepage Journal

      Did they have to suffer any imposed financial pressure? I'm fairly sure Apple (and most large corprations) are happy to collude with oppressive regimes (wherever they exist in the world) when there's a profit to be made.

    • Maybe some, but the users should see they had one of two choices (both bad for them): no Apple in China because not towing the line or no app. In both cases they would lose access to the app.

      The real answer would be to make the application available in English and then put it on the USA app store. Sure it would require a US credit card, but if you are going to try to circumvent the system, you might as well accept that it isn't always going to be convenient. The alternative would be no circumvention tool, a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:03AM (#45035893)

    Author's alliterative application attempt an annoying actuality.

  • by techprophet (1281752) <emallson@@@archlinux...us> on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:03AM (#45035901) Journal
    But we already knew that
    • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:07AM (#45035969) Journal
      Your subject line appears to contain an error. You misspelled, "All US tech companies (except Lavabit) are whores who think nothing of selling out themselves and the users who trust them to every repressive regime on the planet."
      • for c in us_tech_companies: if c == lavabit: continue printf("%s likes censorship", c) Is more clear imo
        • Phone completely butchered my formatting and removed all html tags. gg /.
        • by chrish (4714)

          Use a list comprehension:

          print '\n'.join(['%s likes censorship' % (c) for c in us_tech_companies if c != 'lavabit'])

      • Apple can't make value judgements on Chinese internet laws because that would lead to fewer sales. Corporations do not have morals. The only motivation of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value, and a CEO is required to act in this interest by law. A corporation can thus not make moral judgements that act against maximizing shareholder value, any CEO who allowed that is opening themselves up to a huge class action lawsuit.

        Even companies that do things that might seem non-self-serving (say, Starbucks and their fair trade coffee and/or climate change pro-activeness), have to actually in fact be doing so out of self interest (example again, Starbucks CEO Howard Shutlz has gone on the record many times saying that Starbucks actions on the environment are not out of charity; in fact it is because the long-term view of the company is that climate change will damage coffee crops worldwide and this hurt their bottom line significantly).

        This is the plain honest truth. If you don't like it, *then get the system changed*. Don't blame Apple or Tim Cook, they actually are not allowed to operate any other way.

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:42AM (#45036369)

          Corporations are not allowed BY LAW to have morals

          That's not really true... it all depends on their charter. The Red Cross is a corporation created by congress under Title 36, for example. However, as a practical matter most publicly held C corporations do prioritize stockholder value. The fact is the people who control a corporation can do whatever they want with it, so long as they do not defraud anyone.

          • by brunes69 (86786)

            Sure, a C corporation can in the end do whatever they want. But again, not without opening themselves up to shareholder class action lawsuits.

            • by jandrese (485)
              This never made much sense to me. They're just shareholders, if they don't like what the company is doing they should just divest themselves from it and go somewhere else. Having them exert control over the company seems like a colossally bad idea--they're not the ones who know how the day to day workings of the company are going, why do they get to decide how it is run?
            • by plopez (54068)

              Stockholder lawsuits are about as effective as shooting ping pong balls at CEOs' armored limos.

              http://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2011/01/do-securities-lawsuits-help-shareholders.html [professorbainbridge.com]

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              I think you'll find that most class action lawsuits involve claims of fraud - mostly in the form of deliberately withholding or manipulating information to artificially boost stock prices. It is very hard to prove that someone was not acting in the best interests of stockholders unless they were stealing or something. An example someone else used her is Starbucks. When the Starbucks CEO is asked to defend the "good" but expensive things that they do, he replies that those actions are in the best interest of

        • Corporations are an excuse for individual people to behave badly; it's a way for them to do thing they would be ashamed of (except for the sociopaths who are incapable of shame) and defend it via the, "I was just following orders" defense.
        • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:59AM (#45036569) Homepage

          The only motivation of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value, and a CEO is required to act in this interest by law.

          No, it isn't, and no, they're not, and you're getting the terms mixed up, anyway.

          Starting with terminology, "shareholder value" is a different concept from "shareholder profit". While profit is monetary, value includes progress toward long-term goals, market share, and industry stability (as in Starbucks' case), as well as profit... sometimes. Companies can be incorporated in many different ways, and though the most common is certainly for-profit, there are certainly a good many companies that are non-profit. In the case of nonprofits, their "shareholder value" is more often measured by progress toward their mission.

          Over the past few decades, "maximizing shareholder value" has become a general guideline for how to run a business, but it is not law. Rather, the generally-applicable laws only require that companies be managed according to their charter. There is also no stipulation (except a judgement after a lawsuit by angry shareholders) as to how closely the charter must be followed. If a for-profit company's CEO decides, for instance, to protest China's firewall by not selling there, and the shareholders agree, then that's perfectly fine. If a for-profit CEO decides to support charities, and some shareholders do sue over it, a judge may very well still side with the CEO, since charities make for very good advertising.

          Generally speaking, for-profit corporations operate for profits, but not always, and not all companies are for-profit. The idea that all corporations must maximize profits is simply incorrect.

          • Thanks. I, too, I'm tired of the line about profit motivations being required by law. It's a bunch of malarkey designed to make greedy, selfish corporations feel justified in screwing over their employees, customers, and citizens of the countries they operate in.

          • by kermidge (2221646)

            The whole "profit required by law" shtick is but one of the canards continually bruited by certain interests; it's a ploy straight from Goebbels' playbook. Getting enough people to buy in to a false "truth" is a great way to have the people do to themselves what power alone cannot.

            Thanks for the good posts.

        • by pmontra (738736)

          Well... a CEO might resign and go somewhere else instead of doing something s/he doesn't like. They didn't so they preferred the alternative.

          Recently Lavabit [lavabit.com] shutdown instead of doing something they didn't like. I don't know anything about US corporate law but maybe even public companies, even Apple, can decide to shutdown at any time for any reason. It could be as easy as buying back the company and closing it. Stockholders get their money back and don't have anything to complain about. Is there any expert

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There is no law that says a corporation or its CEO must maximise shareholder value / profits. Stop repeating this falsehood, or post the releveant law.

          "this supposed imperative to “maximize” a company’s share price has no foundation in history or in law. Nor is there any empirical evidence that it makes the economy or the society better off. What began in the 1970s and ’80s as a useful corrective to self-satisfied managerial mediocrity has become a corrupting, self-interested dogma

        • by Clsid (564627)

          That was a brutally honest post. If you don't like the law, deal with the lawmakers, not with people obeying the laws.

        • by The-Ixian (168184)

          And this is precisely one of the reasons why I cringe when anyone says the government should be run more like a corporation...

        • Apple can't make value judgements on Chinese internet laws because that would lead to fewer sales. Corporations do not have morals. The only motivation of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value, and a CEO is required to act in this interest by law. A corporation can thus not make moral judgements that act against maximizing shareholder value, any CEO who allowed that is opening themselves up to a huge class action lawsuit.

          A corporation can do anything, with the right justification. They can do lots of things by pointing out that these things might make money in the short term, but lose money long term - for example immoral behaviour will lose you customers; treating employees badly will lose you good employees, and so on. If the shareholders want to increase profits in the next quarter, the company can just point out that they prefer good profits for the next two decades.

        • Corporations have no morals. But then it is the responsibility of us, the customer, to reward (with our wallet) corporations/CEOs that are noble, and punish the ones that are evil. For these actions to be successful a great number of customers must behave this way. To get many behaving this way we need to announce/advertise these kind of actions taken by corporations. This is the main purpose of articles like this. So, if by saying that Tim Cook is "evil", we will help, in the long run, to make corporations
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Corporations are the wrong branch of government if you are looking for improved civil rights. Corporations are pretty much just for economic activity (and of course an unfortunate feedback loop via lobbying). We could of course change that if we liked, but still you'd have to do that through other branches of the government.

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:03AM (#45035903)

    So, Apple removed an app that allows users to bypass the Chinese walled garden from their devices, that are restricted to Apple's walled garden?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is simple. Apple operates in China. China has a law which makes it illegal for Chinese citizens to bypass the government firewall. China also has a law which makes it illegal to provide tools to aid Chinese citizens to bypass the government firewall. Apple is required to follow law in country which it operates. Apple removes tool from its store to comply with Chinese law.

      Sucks for the Chinese citizens, but Apple has its employees to protect from government prosecution.

      • Replace China with US or EU and everyone would be in agreement with Apple. They can't sell illegal things in those countries/blocs.

        But CHINA/APPLE BAD!

      • Good point.

        Apple is setting a terrible precedent. I think I know their motivation (e.g. money, Chinese market, etc).

        Let's say Saudi Arabia makes looking at dirty pictures illegal (not just immoral). Are they scrapping browsers?

        No, the government needs to ensure that while using their network infrastructure the "dangerous" services and applications are blocked. Don't impose your morality and legality on citizens of other countries.

        Apple is weak. They considered the cost/benefit analysis, and figured that

        • The alternative to doing what they did would be being barred from the Chinese market, so the users lose out anyhow. Apple chose to tow the line instead of trying to make a political stand - I doubt they are the only company who would take this approach.

    • .... however, you can install apps from outside the Play Store on Android.

    • by Andrio (2580551)

      It doesn't matter what Google does with the Play Store. On Android, you can allow apps from anywhere else. You don't even need a rooted device.

      One time an app I used got pulled from the play store, so what did I do? I went to the developer's website and downloaded it from there.

      • It doesn't matter what Google does with the Play Store. On Android, you can allow apps from anywhere else. You don't even need a rooted device.

        One time an app I used got pulled from the play store, so what did I do? I went to the developer's website and downloaded it from there.

        Yeah, that's totally an option for the Chinese, just download the App that bypasses the Great Chinese Firewall from beyond the GCF - oh, wait...

    • by Clsid (564627)

      Google Play was a joke in China even before it was cancelled. It didn't allow you to buy any goods, just use the free crap, and more importantly, in China there are dozens of Android app stores, even stores provided by phone manufacturers like Lenovo or Xiaomi or phone carriers like China Unicom, and some of them are way better than Google Play when you are here (granted you need to know Chinese).

      Google started acting like a bully since they really couldn't penetrate the Chinese market, with the likes of Ba

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:05AM (#45035933)

    They could just put it in another market or sideload it, oh wait.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      iOS should be off most geeks' list until there is a jailbreak.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        You shouldn't have to 'jailbreak' a device you own to install software you want.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Yeah, but then there's reality. The list of devices without this requirement is small and insufficient IMHO.

          • You don't have to "jailbreak" an Android phone to install any software you want. Last time I looked, Android phones outnumber all over phones out there. How is this "small and insufficient"?
            • by MightyYar (622222)

              I was referring to rooting, which I admit is a bit outside of the scope of discussion. I made the leap because I personally would never buy an Android phone that I couldn't root. I assumed this was standard amongst my fellow geeks but assumption is the mother of... something.

    • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@worfMOSCOW.net minus city> on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:34PM (#45036941)

      They could just put it in another market or sideload it, oh wait.

      You can do that actually - there are two ways to get an app onto an iPhone without going through Apple.

      1) A developer certificate - lets you sign apps and install it on 100 devices.

      2) An enterprise certificate - lets you sign apps and push it to unlimited numbers of devices that have been previously registered.

      Both involve using a mobile provisioning file - the former is created by Apple, the latter by the enterprise as an Apple-derived certificate.

      The latter is often used by many sites that help distribute iOS betas - the site holds an enterprise certificate they use to create mobileprovisioning certificates you load on your iOS device. the developer uploads their beta app, and the site distributes it (automatically or not) to the attached devices.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        So how do I get one of those without tithing to apple?

      • Enterprise profiles are better than that. The device doesn't have to be registered. You can put your app on any device that has downloaded your certificate from wherever you've hosted it.

        Downside: If you use it for too many phones outside of your Enterprise and Apple gets wind they'll revoke your certificate.

  • Clickbait (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:05AM (#45035935)

    First, the app doesn't vanish from people's phones. If you have it, you still have it.

    Second, it's illegal because China has laws that make circumventing their country's firewall illegal. Thus, illegal.

    Third, blame China. Apple is respecting the laws of a nation. You don't like those laws - fine - but it's not Apple's fault for respecting those laws. Further, you knew they would respect those laws because their developer guidelines are crystal clear and readily available to anyone who wants to develop for the platform. You knew what was going on when you went into the project.

    I know blaming Apple helps generate page views and gets your story in front of people where just blaming China won't but, sorry - clickbait is clickbait. Apple enforced rules that they've had in place for a long while and you knew they would. Deal with it.

    • Re:Clickbait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:12AM (#45036033) Homepage

      Of course if Apple didn't prevent users from loading whatever they like this would be a complete non-issue. This is only possible because Apple control what their users are allowed to do with their device, unless you're willing to invalidate your warranty or pay them an annual fee for the privilege.

      • So what is the situation on Android then? Is there an equivalent app?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gnasher719 (869701)

        Of course if Apple didn't prevent users from loading whatever they like this would be a complete non-issue. This is only possible because Apple control what their users are allowed to do with their device, unless you're willing to invalidate your warranty or pay them an annual fee for the privilege.

        Who says it would be a non-issue?

        Chinese government: People are using this app on the iPhone, which is illegal.
        Apple: Sorry, nothing we can do about it.
        Chinese government: No sales of iPhones until that is fixed.

        • Given that devices that you can sideload apps on are not banned in China I'm not sure where you're going with this. Apple would have to remove the app from itunes but the user, if their own property didn't lock them out, would be able to obtain it from another source.

        • Has China banned Android phones, or are you simply making up hypothetical situations that are absurd in practice?
          • by Yakasha (42321)

            Has China banned Android phones, or are you simply making up hypothetical situations that are absurd in practice?

            Ya, its not like China has ever blocked iTunes over providing access to undesirable content. [pcworld.com].
            But really, doing something to hurt Apple's business in China? Like, building a replacement [itworld.com]? No, they would never do that.

            And like you, I recall China's response to Google no longer censoring search results to be entirely positive [nytimes.com]. They don't disconnect you if you try to search for a blocked term, right?

            The Chinese government has absolutely no problem taking very drastic steps that can be financially devastat

      • The more controlled experience Apple offers has its upsides, but this is one of the downsides.

        Apple can't dodge responsibility for any apps on their App Store. They must comply with all local laws. Google don't have that problem with Android, but then their sideloading adds other issues.

        It's just a different model of how to use the phone. Both have good and bad points, but I can't see either as a superior choice for the general users.

    • Third, blame China. Apple is respecting the laws of a nation. You don't like those laws - fine - but it's not Apple's fault for respecting those laws.

      One word: Dehomag.

    • Re:Clickbait (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StormReaver (59959) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:55AM (#45036511)

      You knew what was going on when you went into the project.

      While true, Apple still carries a large amount of responsibility for locking people into its marketplace prison. If sideloading were an option, people could still get by without Apple's (or the Chinese Government's) consent.

      That being said, I find it really, really hard to sympathize with Apple customers when they get burned over and over again without learning their lesson. It's like Homer (or was it Bart?) Simpson touching the hot stove: "doh!"..."doh!"..."doh!"....

  • As app store only can lead to anit trust issues as well a MASS move to Linux.

  • There you go (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:14AM (#45036059)
    You can only blame yourself for choosing to be part of the Apple walled garden.
  • by v1 (525388) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:16AM (#45036081) Homepage Journal

    the only reason China allows the iPhone in at all is that Apple has agreed to pull apps from that market that the government doesn't like. Bypassing The Great Firewall of China lands dead-center in that description. When doing business in China, you don't negotiate terms with Beijing. You take note of their terms, and you follow them, or you GTFO.

    If you don't like that, consider the alternatives. No, let me correct that, the alternative. "NO IPHONE IN CHINA."

    either way, you're not getting that app. At least this way you can still get the iPhone. (and Apple can still sell it there) It's a win-win. (Apple and the users in China) Some want it to be a win-win-win, but there's simply no way for those users to "win" in that way. Suggesting that Apple should fight this and get the iPhone pulled out of China is a cross between short-sighted and selfish. Apple is understandably going to say "no" when you try to take their ball and go home.

  • by ehack (115197) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:19AM (#45036127) Journal

    Apple obeys Chinese law by not allowing their citizens to bypass censorship , and it obeys US law by providing private information on the Chinese users to the US authorities :)

  • to sell in it. They're not a monopoly so they don't need to excuse their decisions to not offer a product.

    If you disagree with their policies, don't buy Apple.

  • Just sayin.. If they bought an iphone and expected to be able to circumvent crap on their device... c'mon. This is why people who want more control over their stuff use something else.

  • 'Illegal' means someone or some entity decided you should not be allowed to. In this case, the government of China has decided their citizens may not access certain sites. Apple has no doubt been told they cannot permit apps to be provided that bypass those restrictions, or they will be punished for doing so.

    Predictable.

  • by dnaumov (453672) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:05PM (#45036643)

    Content that is legal in USA, may very well be illegal in Russia (Apple does business in both countries). What now?

  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:22PM (#45036815)

    Alliterative Acronyms Are Always Awful, Avoid And Abstain As Appropriate

  • How did they get their signing certificate and developer account if they're anonymous?

  • As much as I don't like to reference pop culture, South Park is an exception. Their recent NSA episode sums this up well. People who knowingly purchase their products have no reason to complain. This especially includes the Chinese, of whom none of contract-signing age should have any doubt the nefarious uses of technology.
  • How does opendoor works? The home page is a facebook page loaded with garbage contributions, no real information there.
  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Saturday October 05, 2013 @01:41AM (#45042407) Journal
    People who are suprised by this behavior from Apple in 2013 deserve what happens to them.

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