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[liberationtech] Is it legal to deny access to users based on their residence?

Tom Ritter tom at
Thu Feb 13 22:03:42 PST 2014

IANAL, but I think it's perfectly legal.

"But if a customer walks in, could they ask for his/her address, and
reject him/her if he/she doesn't have a local address?" - I just got
back from Australia and not only is this legal, it's common. The bowls
clubs refuse entry to someone if they're within the catchment's area
and not a member. If you're outside the catchment's area you can visit
for free.

The app store is not a common carrier. They're perfectly able to ban
people from it at their discretion (e.g. Charlie Miller). You have no
public interest in being able to not be censored by the App Store. App
Stores also remove apps for different carriers, let publishes choose
which carrier is able to install an app, and remove apps from their
stores for reasons of spam, malware, or whimsy.


On 13 February 2014 15:03, Martin Johnson <greatfire at> wrote:
> Background: Apple deleted several apps (OpenDoor, FreeWeibo etc) from the
> China App Store last year, claiming that they broke Chinese laws. The
> censorship is not based on the actual location of the user, but on the
> address which the user used to register the account.
> Question: Let's say that a US citizen lives and works in China. He or she
> registers an iPhone with his/her Chinese address. He/she then goes back to
> the US on vacation. Now, while in the US, this person would still be denied
> access to certain apps in the App Store - supposedly because they break
> Chinese law. But in this case you would have a US citizen being in the US
> but being restricted by Chinese law - is that possible?
> I know that in the above case the person could get around the restrictions
> by registering a new account, with a US address. But it's perfectly possible
> that the person doesn't have a valid US address to register, especially if
> it has to be connected to a credit card.
> Let's compare to an offline business, say a restaurant. It's reasonable for
> a restaurant to deny customers who actually reside in a different area - "we
> don't deliver there". But if a customer walks in, could they ask for his/her
> address, and reject him/her if he/she doesn't have a local address?
> All advice appreciated.
> Martin Johnson
> Founder of and | PGP key
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