There’s a new form of digital censorship sweeping the globe, and it could be the start of something devastating.
In the last few weeks, the Chinese government compelled Apple to remove New York Times apps from the Chinese version of the App Store. Then the Russian government had Apple and Google pull the app for LinkedIn, the professional social network, after the network declined to relocate its data on Russian citizens to servers in that country. Finally, last week, a Chinese regulator asked app stores operating in the countryto register with the government, an apparent precursor to wider restrictions on app marketplaces.
These moves may sound incremental, and perhaps not immediately alarming. China has been restricting the web forever, and Russia is no bastion of free speech. So what’s so dangerous about blocking apps?
Here’s the thing: It’s a more effective form of censorship.
It’s almost like an operating system where you can’t install applications not approved by its manufacturer is a really, really dumb idea.