Apple removes VPN services from the App Store in China

Apple complies with China's request to remove VPN apps from the Chinese App Store

Apple yields to pressure from Beijing, starts removing VPN apps from China App Store

The app for Virtual Private Network provider ExpressVPN was purged from Apple's Chinese app store on Friday as it contained "content that is illegal in China".

"Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed", ExpressVPN said in a statement, calling Apple's move "surprising and unfortunate".

The move is in line with the Chinese government's effort to censor open Internet.

The "Great Firewall of China" is the name given to the censorship technology that the government applies to restrict the websites that citizens can access.

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But they also mark the first time China has successfully used its influence with a major foreign tech platform, like Apple, to push back against the software makers.

One provider, Express VPN, said that Apple informed them their app would be removed "because it includes content that is illegal in China", and that they were "disappointed", according to Reuters.

The affected apps included Star VPN, ExpressVPN, and other tools for protecting user privacy and encrypting traffic. Golden Frog president Sunday Yokubaitis can not hide his dismay over Apple's decision.

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.

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Yokubaitis further stated that internet access in China is a human rights issue, adding that Apple has "to value human rights over profits". Add to that, The Times and Wall Street Journal are among several worldwide news sites that are also blocked in China. As China already has an enormous amount of censorship and bans over the Internet, the VPN apps were the only way in which users of the country could bypass the state censorship controls and access the internet without restrictions.

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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