Apple Removes VPN Apps From China Store After Government Pressure

Phillip Butler
August 3, 2017

A couple of days after Apple started pulling VPN apps from the App Store in China to comply with government restrictions on their use, Russian Federation looks to be next in line to clamp down on the use of virtual private networks ...

The move is in line with recent directives from Beijing's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which issued orders at the beginning of the year requiring VPNs to seek licenses from the government before operating.

"The central government in China back in 2015 started tightening the regulations associated with VPN apps, and we have a number of those on our store", Cook said on the company's fiscal third-quarter conference call Tuesday. We were required by the government to remove some of the VPN apps from the app store that don't meet these new regulations. "In the case of China, the law is very clear there". "And so we believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree".

"When Apple removes an app from the app store of a given country, it affects all users who have registered with an address in that country, regardless of their physical location", he added.

Apple confirmed Sunday that it had removed software enabling users to maneuver the Great Firewall of China.

The organization considers that the law is a "serious crack-down on the Internet freedom", "the last attack of the authorities on online freedoms".

They were also hopeful that the restrictions will ease eventually as innovation really needs freedom to work together and communicate.


State-run China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom were told to ensure that their 1.3 billion subscribers can't use VPNs to access blocked content, while popular VPN provider GreenVPN was shut down in early July.

The 19 Communist Party National Congress was also among the reasons as to why Chinese authorities have been tightening up on nearly everything, from internet browsing to live-streaming websites and social media. We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business.

Also in response to the new law, Apple said it planned to open a new data center in China and store user data there.

While Microsoft and Amazon both run cloud services in China, similar ones run by local Chinese internet rivals dwarf them in scale. That doesn'tmean that we don't state our point of view in the appropriate way, we always do that.

"By banning unregistered VPNs, and asserting more control over those that continue to operate, China will be better able to inspect traffic coming in and out of the country", Micek said.

Over the weekend, Apple removed several VPN apps from the Chinese App Store, causing significant amounts of blowback from privacy experts as well as VPN operators.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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