China summons Apple for talks following concern around live-streaming apps

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Apple is coming under pressure from authorities in China after internet regulators asked the company to tighten standards for iOS apps in the country.

A report from state news agency Xinhua said Apple had been summoned for questioning for allowing three streaming services — toutiao.com, huoshanzhibo.com and huajiao.com — to “violate four different regulations concerning Internet information services.” The agency added that the services were found to have “significant loopholes” around their management of live-broadcasts, according to the findings of an investigation. In particular, the apps were criticized for issues managing content, user classification and identity verification, although it isn’t entirely clear exactly what issues sparked authorities into action.

Live-streaming has taken over off in China over the past year. We reported on the phenomenon in depth last year, and just this year live-streaming has helped dating app Momo post record growth and Tencent recently backed another top streaming app to the tune of $350 million.

But with mainstream adoption comes scrutiny. Critics have argued that app stores are a new frontier for internet censorship in countries like China and Russia, but realistically Apple’s hands are tied because it can hardly go against government orders and remain in business in local markets. For example, Apple was forced to remove the New York Times app from the Chinese version of the iOS App Store and it previously pulled its iTunes Movies and iBooks services just six months after a local launch.

In a seemingly unrelated issue today, Apple has revoked a popular tips feature from the WeChat app for iOS. As Bloomberg reported, tips appear to have been removed because they violate Apple’s policy on third-party payment and purchase systems inside an app.

Featured Image: JOHANNES EISELE/Getty Images

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