Apple comes under fire for removing VPNs from App Store in China

Apple has removed all virtual private network (VPN) applications from its App Store in China, its second largest market outside of the USA, in a move to comply with the country's stringent cyber regulations. "We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations", Apple said in the statement.

VPNs allow Chinese internet users to bypass the country's firewall, using them to circumvent the restrictions China places on foreign websites, as well as hiding internet browsing activity from internet service providers. This has led to VPN providers accuse Apple of being unnecessarily supportive of the heightened censorship regime in China.

The removed VPNs are still available in Apple App Stores outside China.

Now the Chinese authorities know they can strong-arm Apple into removing features of the service they dislike it won't be long before they're requesting the manual VPN set-up feature be removed or blocked from devices registered in China.

On Saturday morning, at least some software makers affected by the sweep received notification from Apple that their tools were removed for violating Chinese law. That said, Apple has no other choice either given that it is bound to abide with the local laws to continue doing business in the country.

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In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple justified the move is a fairly prosaic way, treating the ban as just a case of following local laws as they would with any other country.

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Apple Inc is binding itself more closely to China as its share of the world's biggest smartphone market slips and it becomes more reliant on selling services which require government approval. RIA news agency says that the law is only meant to block the unlawful content from reaching out to the public.

China is tightening its control on internet access in the country, and Apple is going along with it.

In China, Apple is the middle of a localisation drive, a new managing director for the region - a new role in this month. Meanwhile, Apple's sales in China-not growth, but actual sales revenue-dropped 14 percent in the most recent quarter's earnings measured year over year. Although Apple said it would keep the encryption keys and would not compromise the privacy of users, some pundits have suggested that housing data in China could form a pressure for Apple to pass data in future disputes.

"Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said "accessibility is a human right".

  • Megan Austin