TripAdvisor Banned in China in New Anti-Gambling Sweep

Chinese authorities have cracked down on 150 apps in the country, including popular travel platform TripAdvisor, citing fears of illegal gambling and other illicit operations.

China Pulls the Plug on TripAdvisor from Local App Stores

China has swept 150 apps under the rug, arguing that the software has been targeting Chinese citizens and posed a threat to their well-being as well as national security. In the latest crackdown on the Internet, Chinese cyberspace authorities banned over a hundred apps, among which popular travel and tourist platform TripAdvisor, arguing that it was a conduit of illegal gambling.

The Cyberspace Administration of China released a statement yesterday, arguing that it had acted based on complaints from citizens who identified the platforms as facilitators of illegal services and content.

Recently, China opened a hotline for citizens to use and report on fellow citizens or any companies that may be breaching the country’s laws. In the official statement released by the Cyberspace Administration, officials argued that the materials and content appearing on the targeted websites and apps displayed “violence, explicit and obscene imagery, incitation to gambling, and prostitution”

Being a targeted platform is based on loose criteria. Officials did not specify as to why each individual app was banned, and that includes TripAdvisor. However, one suggestion is that China has been ramping up its efforts to stem gambling capital outflow and protect citizens from being lured away to tourist destinations where they spend money on gambling or are kidnapped.

Curbing Gambling Tourism Abroad

In August, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism introduced a blacklist system for travel destinations that the country deemed high-risk to its citizens. The Ministry specified that “these locations posed a direct risk to the personal and property safety of Chinese citizens”.

According to the official position, which cites China’s Network Security Law plus Regulations on Content Ecological Governance and Regulations on the Management of Mobile Internet Application Information Services, the banned apps have failed to meet audit requirements.

Presently, China prohibits Chinese tourists from visiting specific destinations in the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia, fearing that citizens may be driven by an urge to gamble overseas.

By September 30, China has arrested estimated 60,000 individuals, a small dip in the numbers compared form a year before. Meanwhile, the Cyberspace Administration said that it would continue to advise ‘rectification of mobile applications,’ and continue to strengthen its oversight over such solutions.

Apps found in breach of the law will be “promptly clean up” and asked to comply with audits if they wish to continue operating in the country. All of this, the Cyberspace Administration said, in a goal to create a clean Internet.

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