Apple has pulled approximately 25,000 illegal gambling apps from its App Store in China, The Wall Street Journal reports. The move reportedly comes as a result of pressure from Chinese state media, although Apple released a statement emphasizing that “Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China,” and that it has “already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store” and remains “vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.” Apple has been under fire from Chinese news outlets for its weak enforcement in filtering banned content and applications. According to one of Apple’s more vocal critics, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, approximately 25,000 apps had been removed as of Sunday. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology notes that Apple offers more than 1.8 million apps in China, so 25,000 apps would amount to about 1.4 percent of the total number of apps available on the Chinese App Store, although Apple has not confirmed either number.
Apple actually began a worldwide crackdown on gambling apps last month, although some developers appear to have been caught in the crossfire of Apple’s new policies, with innocuous apps such as magazine apps and YouTube remote control apps being removed as well, likely as a result of offering unrestricted web access. While Apple’s new App Store policies still allow gambling apps to be pusliehd by “verified accounts from incorporated business entities,” it’s unclear whether that policy will also apply to the Chinese App Store. Apple’s latest move may also not be enough to dissuade the company’s critics in the Chinese media, who have pointed out that the illegal apps that were banned from the App Store will still work for users who have already downloaded them, and also criticized Apple for allowing “fake positive reviews” that had misled users.