Apple Enforces New Regulations for App Developers in China

Apple has introduced a new requirement for app developers in China, mandating the submission of a Chinese government license before allowing new apps on its App Store in China (via Reuters).

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This move aligns Apple with local rivals who adopted similar policies years ago to adhere to stricter state regulations.

Starting last Friday, Apple is demanding that app developers provide an “internet content provider (ICP) filing” when publishing new apps on its App Store, as stated on its developer website.

The ICP filing is a well-established registration system in China, necessary for websites to operate legally. Most local app stores, including Tencent and Huawei, have required this filing since at least 2017.

To obtain an ICP filing license, developers must either have a company presence in China or collaborate with a local publisher. This requirement has posed a challenge for many foreign app developers.

Apple’s previous lenient approach to ICP filings allowed it to offer a wider array of mobile apps than its local competitors, contributing to the tech giant’s popularity in China.

This development by Apple follows China’s recent tightening of regulations over mobile apps. In August, a new rule was introduced, compelling all app stores and developers to submit an “app filing” containing business details to regulatory authorities.

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Last week, Chinese regulators unveiled the names of the first group of mobile app stores that successfully completed app filings. Notably, Apple’s App Store was not on this list.

Apple’s adherence to these regulations may impact access to hundreds of thousands of apps on its App Store in China, including popular foreign apps like X and Telegram.

Besides regulatory challenges, Apple faces other difficulties in China as Beijing places a greater emphasis on security. This includes some government agencies prohibiting employees from using iPhones.

Some iPhone users in China have also posted on X, mentioning that they may need to switch to Apple accounts from other countries to continue accessing their favorite apps.

Under the new rule, apps lacking proper filings will face penalties after a grace period ending in March next year, while newly developed apps must adhere to the rule starting in September.

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