Friday, October 2, 2020

Apple Removes RSS Feed Readers From Chinese App Store

Tim Hardwick (also Slashdot):

Apple has reportedly removed two RSS feed reader apps from China’s App Store to comply with Chinese law. Fiery Feeds and Reeder both tweeted that their iOS apps had been removed in China over content that is considered “illegal” in the country.

Too bad the App Store is the only way to install iOS apps.

John Gruber:

It’s completely unclear what explains the three year gap here, and the entire policy makes no sense. Why ban feed readers but not web browsers? At a technical level, feed readers are just web browsers for RSS feeds. China’s Great Firewall should block feeds (and centralized feed aggregating sources) just as easily as it blocks websites.

Perhaps because the apps make it easier to find content when using a VPN to get around the firewall?


3 Comments RSS · Twitter

I thought Gruber was all for censorship and Tim Apple could do no wrong? The fact of the matter is that NO content filter blocks aggregators, because they want “others in the system” to have access to RSS scrapers.

China doesn’t want to block aggregators for their upper echelon, but they also don’t want the “hoi -polloi” to have an easy time of it using RSS Readers.

Web browsers will just block all of the content from the site, whereas RSS readers under a content filter like Golden Shield will load text from an aggregator like Feedbin but none of the other cross-site “objectionable” assets from the base site.

RSS Reader aggregators provide “just enough text into” from the RSS scrape to normies as to whether they should (in the case of China) risk firing up a VPN to yank the “forbidden content” in question.

Apple is a government's best friend on account of the single failure point for the platform, the app store. Android, if Google ran their services in that country, would have those same apps pulled from the Play Store, but sideload would allow adding them back. Put it up to the customer seems like a fair tradeoff. Reduces their own risk, but no 30% cut lock in that way.

In a nutshell, this is why the making the App Store a gatekeeper from executing code is a free speech issue.

Leave a Comment