China bans 105 apps, eight app stores, and says it’ll swing the hammer again

TripAdvisor caught in sweep of software deemed too nasty for local consumption

China has banned 105 apps from reaching local users and says it’ll ban more in future.

An announcment from the State Cyberspace Administration says the bans were made in response to citizen concerns about apps that offer obscene content, gambling or make it possible to procure intimate personal services.

Top of the list is TripAdvisor. Yes, that TripAdvisor - the one that pollutes every search result about travel. China’s presumably not keen on the service because it lists a great many places it may think inappropriate for citizens to visit. Perhaps the comments are toxic? Or maybe Beijing is making an example of TripAdvisor as some kind of demonstration of displeasure at the USA’s threatened ban on TikTok?

If the TripAdvisor ban is geopolitics in action, the bans do not appear to impact any software with ties to India. So it seems sensible to discount this round of bans as any kind of retaliation for India’s ban of 200-plus Chinese apps.

Instead, other apps on the list appear to offer anonymous messaging services, which is just the sort of thing Beijing hates as it builds an ever-more powerful digital panopticon. Others have explicit names, or stream video despite China cracking down on webcasters that don’t sign up for regulation to ensure that video nasties don’t reach the populace.

Eight app stores were also shut down.

The Cyberspace Administration says it will ban more apps in future and strengthen its compliance programs too.

The stores and developers can’t say they didn’t see this coming because in October China announced it had inspected over 340,000 apps and warned 1,100-plus developers to clean up their code, and their acts.

Some may not have got the memo or may have ignored it. Now they also don’t have apps and probably also have a lower Social Credit score, the system China uses to rate its citizens behaviour, and which determines access to opportunities such as education, travel and even eligibility for some jobs. ®

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