Apple To Get Rid Of VPN Apps In China
Apple Inc. will get rid of its virtual private network (VPN) services from its app store in China, drawing criticism from VPN service providers, who accuse the U.S. tech giant of bowing to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators.
In a statement on Sunday, an Apple spokeswoman confirmed it will remove apps that don't comply with the law from its China App Store, including services based outside the country.
Software made by foreign companies to help users edge the country’s system of internet filters has gone from Apple’s app store in the mainland China.
VPNs allow users to evade China's so-called "Great Firewall" aimed at restricting access to foreign sites. It also allows for privacy by hiding browsing activities from internet service providers.
Multiple VPN service providers, affected by the decision, criticized the move online, calling it a "dangerous precedent" set by Apple, which governments in other countries may follow.
VPN service providers received notification from Apple on July 29 that their apps were removed from the China App Store for including "content that is illegal" on the mainland, according to a screenshot posted by ExpressVPN.
"We're disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China's censorship efforts," ExpressVPN said in a statement.
Other major providers, including VyprVPN and StarVPN, confirmed they also received the notice on Saturday from Apple.
"We view access to Internet in China as a human rights issue and I would expect Apple to value human rights over profit," Sunday Yokubaitis, President of Golden Frog, which oversees VyprVPN said on Sunday.
Yokubaitis, President of Golden Frog, a company that makes privacy and security software, including VyprVPN, said its software, too, had been taken down from the app store.
“We gladly filed an amicus brief in support of Apple in their backdoor encryption battle with the F.B.I.,” he said, “so we are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure from China to remove VPN apps without citing any Chinese law or regulation that makes VPN illegal.”
In a statement, Apple noted that the Chinese government announced this year that all developers offering VPNs needed to acquire a government license.
“We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations,” the company said. “These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”
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