Apple removes VPN apps from China App Store to comply with government

31 July, 2017, 01:12 | Author: Sherri Guerrero
  • Apple complies with China's request to remove VPN apps from the Chinese App Store

VPN service provider issue has been ongoing in China for quite some time but for the first time Apple has obeyed the demands of the Chinese government and removed overseas providers from its Chinese store.

Today, multiple VPN providers active in China have received notifications from Apple that informs them their software will be removed from the China App Store " because it includes content that is illegal in China".

Screenshot of the notification ExpressVPN received from Apple about the removal of ExpressVPN's iOS app from the China App Store.

ExpressVPN publicly reminded users that it is possible for people inside China to access the apps as long as they have a billing address in a country where the App Store has not yet been censored.

China infamously has strict regulations on Internet access and VPNs were one way people could circumvent the Great Firewall.

The China based service providers are already tightly controlled by the government, now the country has targeted Foreign Service providers.

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In its statement, released on the same day, Express VPN said Apple's move "is surprising and unfortunate", adding that it "strongly condemns" such measure as it poses threats to free speech and civil liberties. It was told that those VPNs that are approved would only use government infrastructure.

ExpressVPN claimed Apple was "aiding China's censorship effort".

On Sunday Yokubaitis, president of VyperVPN developer Golden Frog said its app was also removed from the app store, the New York Times reported.

The affected apps included Star VPN, ExpressVPN, and other tools for protecting user privacy and encrypting traffic. The luxury hotels in China has stopped providing VPN services to their guests, WhatsApp (now banned in China) users found that they were not being able to send photos or videos via the app and the problem also got extended to WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China.

It's still not clear as to what has happened to the Android App stores in the country.

China's internet regulator defended the crackdown earlier in the week, saying recent measures were part of an ongoing campaign aimed at "cleaning and standardizing" access to the internet.

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