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China blocks the iTunes store

China blocks the iTunes store

Access to Apple’s online store, the iTunes Store, has been blocked in China after it emerged that Olympic athletes may have been downloading and listening to a pro-Tibetan music album in a subtle act of protest by Chinese government controls. about the province. The album, called Songs fot Tibet, was produced by a group called The Art of Peace Foundation, and has 20 tracks by well-known singers and writers, including Moby, Sting, Suzanne Vega and Alanis Morissette.

It was released as a download on the iTunes Store on August 5, three days before the start of the Olympics – and the physical disc was released on Tuesday this week. The Foundation provided free downloads of the album to Olympic athletes, urging them to play it on their iPods during the games to show their support.

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Funds raised from the sale of the album are being used by the non-profit foundation for “peace-related projects dear to the Dalai Lama,” the Tibetan spiritual leader whom China regards as subversive.

On Monday, expatriate iTunes users who are living in China began to experience technical problems with their access. That was the same day that a US-based campaign for Tibet organization claimed on its site that “more than 40 Olympians in North America, Europe and even Beijing” had downloaded the album.

The Apple Customer Forums contain numerous instances where users complain of experiencing technical issues.

Although some iTunes users suggest that the problem comes from Apple, according to various forum writers and bloggers working in China, the source of the problem is attributed to the Great Firewall of China. given to internet censorship in China.

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A blogger calling herself JeninShanghai has reposted what she says is the response she received from Apple customer service after informing them that she had problems with her US iTunes account. “iTunes is not being blocked in China from our side, but access to the iTunes Stores IS restricted in some parts of China. This would also explain what is going on with your friends as well,” she says in response.

“I would advise you to contact your ISP about the matter. Please note that accessing the iTunes Store from anywhere other than the United States is not supported, and attempting to access the service while in China is at your own risk.

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This apparent lockdown of iTunes hints at some thorny issues for Apple, which opened its first physical store in Beijing on the eve of the Olympics.

“This is the first time many stores have opened in China,” said Ron Johnson, Apple’s vice president of sales. The company, whose CEO Steve Jobs is a practicing Buddhist, is also in talks with China’s mobile phone operators to release the blockbuster iPhone.

iTunes Store is blocked in some countries. In the case of the US iTunes Store – the largest music store in the country – only those with US credit cards or US gift certificates can purchase iTunes music and videos.

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Many expats from the US, Europe and Australia who are living in China access the store from there where they can buy and download music, video and podcasts. However, due to the lockdown, that is no longer possible. The album is currently available on the Australian iTunes Store.

According to the report published on China’s semi-official news portal, china.org.cn, “Angry internet users are gathering to denounce Apple for offering Songs for Tiber for purchase. They have also expressed their desire to ban the album’s singers and producers, most notably Sting, John Mayer and Dave Matthews, from entering China.”

The report, published in English, says internet users are calling for a boycott of Apple products, including the iPhone when it is eventually released in China.

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Source: Macworld

Photo: myuibe