China is now blocking access to the iTunes Store, allegedly over pro-Tibetan content.
The album of interest is Songs for Tibet, a compilation that contains tracks from artists Moby, Alanis Morissette, and Sting. The release, produced by the Art of Peace Foundation, first appeared on the iTunes Store on August 5th. A number of users within China recently began complaining of severed access, and subsequent traceroutes pointed to a government-imposed block.
Another pro-Tiben organization, Campaign for Tibet, recently boasted that numerous Olympic athletes – including those from China – had downloaded the album. That may have helped to prompt the ban, part of a government approach that leans towards heavy censorship. “Some say they will boycott all Apple products from now on, including the popular iPhone, which is not available in China since negotiations among Apple, China Mobile and China Unicom broke down,” reported china.org.cn, a pro-government publication.
The incident highlights the prickly Chinese terrain that most American companies grapple with. On one hand, a massive population and growing economy make the country irresistibly alluring, though the rules of the game are entirely different. Ultimately, Apple, Google and other high-flying companies are forced to modify their content and approaches, or risk exclusion.