Apple removes software for bypass of internet filters from Chinese App store

China's Struggle for a Free Internet Worsens as Apple Removes VPN Apps from its Store

The violation? As Apple noted in an email to ExpressVPN, one of the country's biggest VPN apps, it included "content illegal in China", and it had not made sure its product "conforms with all local laws". Three VPN providers confirmed removal, and Apple provided a statement that said that regulations put in place in January were the cause.

Apple is finding it increasingly hard to hew to the demands of China's communist government while also placating those opposed to online censorship in the country.

According to reports, Apple has blocked over 60 VPN apps have been banned.

In a statement, Apple said, "We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations", referring to a recent law requiring VPN developers operating in China to obtain a government license. ExpressVPN said Apple's decision was "surprising and unfortunate" and that it amounts to "the most drastic measure" by China to block VPN use so far. But given the blocking of VPNs in China is happening at the carrier level, it seems that even if you arrive in the country with a VPN enabled that it won't work. President Vladimir Putin has just signed a law banning VPNs and proxies in Russian Federation from 1 November.




Overseas services have also been increasingly targeted as the country moves to tighten control on the internet. China is Apple's largest market outside of the U.S., accounting for over one-fifth of Apple's total revenue in the 2016 fiscal year. This includes popular sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and all of Google's services including Gmail and search. 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.

It's too soon to say what Apple's decision on VPNs will mean for the future of its business in China, or for its policy battles elsewhere.

But Yokubaitis also laid bare Apple's core problem: It still needs to worry about profits. China continues being strictly an authoritarian regime in spite of it being the most populous country in the world. China recently slipped to Apple's third-largest market, as consumers have switched to newer domestic offerings.

Some said the recent moves jarred with Apple's stance in the United States past year, when it opposed an Federal Bureau of Investigation court order to break into an iPhone of a gunman who fatally shot 14 people in San Bernardino in December 2015, with Cook saying it would be "bad for America".

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