Apple Bans Recording Political Terms On Products in China


Apple has a service that allows it to laser-engrave words on Apple products, but is banning political terms from being placed on iPhones and other devices sold in China. This is what a report by Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto (Canada), disclosed this Wednesday (18) reveals.

According to the investigation, the list of words censored by Apple in the Chinese market includes more than 1,100 terms. These include expressions related to democracy, religion and human rights, as well as references to the government, political system, names of dissidents and independent press organizations.

The document also points out that “part of Apple’s political censorship in mainland China affects Hong Kong and Taiwan.” According to the entity, much of this content blocking exceeds the brand’s legal obligations in Hong Kong, while in Taiwan there is no justification for this to happen.

The Canadian survey also highlights evidence that Apple is unaware of some censored terms, possibly having copied lists from other sources. One example cited is the ban on laser engraving of the Zhang surname, apparently without political significance.

“Respect for local laws and customs”

In a statement sent to Citizen Lab, Apple’s chief privacy officer Jane Horvath said the company tries to avoid recordings that represent trademark and intellectual property infringement. Terms that are vulgar and could be interpreted as incitement to violence are also prohibited.

To avoid problems, the Cupertino giant takes into account the legislation and customs of the places where the personalization service is offered, according to Horvath. She stated that these decisions are revised “from time to time” and revealed that there is no global list of censored words.

Also according to the Apple spokesperson, the laser engraving feature was created to “add names, initials, phone numbers or emojis” to the brand’s devices.


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