Apple Inc. removed podcast apps Pocket Casts and Castro from its App Store in China at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the apps’ developers said this week.
“We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship,” Pocket Casts wrote on Twitter. “As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request.” The developers said that Apple contacted them on behalf of the Chinese regulator and that the app was removed two days later.
The developer wrote that Apple said Pocket Casts includes “content that is illegal in China as determined by the CAC.”
Castro said it received a similar notice from Apple around the same time as Pocket Casts and that it is still working out what to do. Castro said about 10% of its user base is in China.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. The company has said in the past that it follows local laws in the countries where it operates.
Neither app is currently highly ranked in Apple’s US App Store, but both are rated well by users and are commonly featured in listings of the top iPhone apps for listening to podcasts.
Apple’s own Podcasts app is available in mainland China, but it is limited with reduced content appearing in search and no ability to sort through different podcast categories.
In the past, Apple has been criticised for removing other apps from its App Store in China.
Last year, it pulled the Quartz news app and a few years ago removed Skype. Earlier this year, the pandemic-themed game Plague was yanked.
On its website, Apple says that it removed 194 apps from the App Store in mainland China in the first half of 2019 for legal reasons.