Multiple generative AI apps have been removed from Apple’s China App Store, two weeks ahead of the country’s new generative AI regulations that are set to take effect on August 15.
The move came after Chinese developers received notices from Apple informing them of their apps’ removal. In its letter to OpenCat, a native ChatGPT client, Apple cited “content that is illegal in China” as the reason for pulling the app.
In July, China announced a set of measures to regulate generative AI services, including API providers. The rules require AI apps operating in China to obtain an administrative license, which is reflected in Apple’s removal notice.
“As you may know, the government has been tightening regulations associated with deep synthesis technologies (DST) and generative AI services, including ChatGPT. DST must fulfill permitting requirements to operate in China, including securing a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT),” Apple said to OpenCat. “Based on our review, your app is associated with ChatGPT, which does not have requisite permits to operate in China.”
The popular tech blogger @foxshuo tweeted screenshots showing supposedly over 100 AI apps that have been removed from the China App Store. TechCrunch confirmed that several of those apps indeed couldn’t be found in the China App Store.
TechCrunch has reached out to Apple for comment.
China has been leading the way in regulating the flourishing generative AI space, especially as apps leveraging large language models like ChatGPT have mushroomed in the country. This unpredictable and black-box nature of these LLMs is no doubt a concern for China’s cyberspace censors, whose job is to ensure no illegal or politically sensitive information slips through the crack.
China has already imposed licensing requirements on other areas of the internet, such as video games, and it remains to be seen what criteria will be needed to obtain a generative AI license. In any case, the new regulatory environment will likely deter a lot of developers, especially bootstrapping independent ones, from entering the market, potentially leaving it to deep-pocketed internet giants with the resources to navigate compliance layers.
This is a developing story…