China’s rigorous policies for internet censorship has hit a new high today as Apple purges all the major VPN services from its App Store. The ban was first spotted by one of the leading hosts – ExpressVPN which elaborated the issue in a blog post. The company did contact Apple, however, was shut down with a violation that deems the app as illegal in the region. You can read the reply in the attached screenshot below.
The removed VPN apps, although continue to work without any issues outside of China. Hence, it’s safe to say Apple was forced to make the move due to the country’s strict system. This was, however, a long time coming as China officially declared such services unlawful back in January. If they wish to continue operations, VPN hosts are required to receive government approval. Apple, of course, had to comply with these regulations considering its position in the market right now. It cannot take another plunge and expect to push its products in the country.
ExpressVPN further commented on the blog, “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 strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties.”
VPN services, if you’re unaware, essentially allowed users to bypass country’s stringent firewalls and browse an open internet. A range of crucial websites and platforms have been blocked from China, because of which a substantial amount of people relied on these virtual private networks for their work purposes. This isn’t, though, the first time China has banished a service from operating. Apple had to recently drop the New York Times’ app as well from the local app store as the news website blocked there.