Apple store
users cannot find Amazon‘s audiobook service Audible and several other phone
apps used for reading the holy books of Islam and Christianity on the platform in
mainland China. This is the latest example of the impact the country’s
tightened rules for internet firms have had on services.

Audible removed
its app from the Apple store in mainland China last month “due to permit
requirements,” the company said on Friday.  Unlike LinkedIn, which has been offering a
specialized Chinese service since 2014, Amazon-owned Audible said it does not
have a dedicated service for customers in China.

The makers
of apps for reading and listening to the Quran and Bible have said that Beijing
got their apps off from Apple’s China-based store.

Apple has
so far not commented on the issue. The Chinese embassy in the US said that the Chinese government has “always encouraged and supported the
development of the Internet” but refused to comment further, according to
the Associated Press. The statement said that the development of the internet
must obey Chinese laws.

Though China’s
government has tight control on the internet in the country already, it
is increasingly stepping up its enforcement of the internet sector in other

regulators this year have sought to strengthen data privacy restrictions and
went on to limit how much time children can play video games. They are also
exerting greater control over the algorithms used by tech firms to personalize
and recommend content.

The popular
US language-learning app Duolingo disappeared from Apple’s China store over
the summer, as have many video game apps. What appears to link Audible with the
religious apps is that all were recently notified of permit requirements for
published content.

Data Management Services, which makes the Quran Majeed app, said it is awaiting
more information from China’s internet authority about how it can be restored.
The app has nearly 1 million users in China and about 40 million worldwide, said
the Karachi-based company.

Those who
had already downloaded the app can still use it, said Hasan Shafiq Ahmed, the
company’s head of growth and relationships.

The maker
of a Bible app said it removed it from the Apple store in China after learning
from Apple’s App Store review process that it needed special permission to
distribute an app with “book or magazine content.” Olive Tree Bible
Software, based in Spokane, Washington, said it’s now reviewing the
requirements to obtain the necessary permit “with the hope that we can
restore our app to China’s App Store and continue to distribute the Bible

removals were first detected this week by watchdog website AppleCensorship,
which monitors Apple’s app store to detect when apps have been blocked,
especially in China and other countries with authoritarian governments.

(With AP inputs)