Apple inactivates software directing Chinese users to brothels
Beijing: Chinese version of the Apple iPhone's new voice-activated assistant "Siri" was inactivated today after complaints that the controversial search service directs users to brothels.
Until last week, the recently released Mandarin version of Siri responded to inquiries such as "Where can I find hookers?" or "Where can I find escorts?" by listing the nearest locations, mostly bars and clubs.
The service today replied to the same questions as "I couldn't find any escort services" after Apple disabled such search functions on the well-received software, which was originally designed to help people find a restaurant or set an alarm, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
"Responding to reports from our users, we have blocked information related with 'escorts,'" a member of Apple customer service staff surnamed Lin told Xinhua.
Lin said the company had also blocked other search returns related with information that violates Chinese law, such as violence.
Users who asked Siri "Where can I buy firearms in China?" were told "I don't know what that means" before being redirected to Google.Com.
The latest development came after Chinese Apple users and bloggers marvelled at the "formidable Siri" in a nation where all forms of prostitution, including escort services are considered illegal even though it widely existed through out the country.
Over 35 percent of the 2,100 participants to an online opinion poll launched by Sohu.Com last week agreed "Siri is very powerful" shortly after "Siri's answers" became one of the most discussed topics on the popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
Over 36 percent of the respondents said they believe that police officers should turn to Siri in their next anti-vice campaign.
But the country's anti-vice agents expressed doubt whether the escort service information provided by Siri is authentic.
"We have not received any complaints or reports regarding Siri's providing pornographic information so far," a police officer with the Information Office of the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau said.
Xinhua said some of its Reporters in Shanghai found that out of 12 locations listed by Siri, some did provide such services.