China orders Apple to remove WhatsApp and Threads from the store: risks to “national security”


By John

Apple has removed WhatsApp and Meta Platforms Threads from its App Store in China after receiving an order from Beijing related to “national security reasons”, while other Meta apps including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are still available, along with other popular ones Western apps, including YouTube and We are obliged to follow the laws of the countries in which we operate, even when we disagree.”

The Cupertino company said that WhatsApp and Threads remain available for download on its other stores, with tech-savvy Chinese users able to download apps from App Stores in other countries by having a local iCloud account.

The order, in the absence of official explanations, is to be linked to the new registration rules of last August and the related clean-up ordered by the Chinese regulatory authorities on the removal of many defunct or incorrectly registered apps from the national iOS and Android stores to starting from April 1, 2024.

The deadline to complete these registrations was set for the end of March due to the rules coming into force on April 1st. In 2017, Apple announced the removal of the New York Times app, saying it violated local regulations, amid growing censorship of externally driven news. Last year, Apple had to withdraw a number of apps similar to ChatGPT, while Beijing was working on local regulations for generative artificial intelligence (AI) services.