Apple withdraws VPNs from its China App Store

By Catherine Sturman

At the weekend, Apple withdrew all its VPN apps from its app store, creating fury amongst its users. With increased concerns that this will not be the last country to bow to China’s censorship rulings, Apple has stated that it has been legally required to pull all VPN’s from the country.

Renowned company Golden Frog, has stated that it will appeal Apple’s decision to pull its services from its China App Store, as its distribution of its VyprVPN will be severely affected by the move.

The company has released a statement through a blog post, explaining that “if Apple views accessibility as a human right, we would hope Apple will likewise recognize internet access as a human right (the UN has even ruled it as such) and would choose human rights over profits." Star VPN has also described Apple’s decision as “a very dangerous precedent,” through Twitter.

ExpressVPN have also released a statement via Twitter, explaining that “VPNs removed from China App Store. Dismayed Apple sided w/ censorship, but we're committed to keeping you connected.”

However, from a business-led perspective, China is the second largest growth market globally, and a large number of products are manufactured in the country. Angering senior leaders and government officials through its operations is not a move which Apple would be sure to undertake, with production costs in the country remaining low, in stark comparison to the US.

The company has also responded to the ongoing furore, claiming that “earlier this year, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations. These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”

Additionally, Apple has recently stated it will build its first data centre in the country, in order to comply with its local laws.

Nonetheless, Martin Johnson, co-founder of China Greatfire.org has stated, "Apple is now an integral part of China's censorship apparatus, helping the government expand its control to a global scale."

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