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iOS Users,Time to Kiss VPNs Goodbye

August 4, 2017
Angelina Lee

VPNs allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.

 

VPNs

 

In January, Beijing passed laws seeking to ban all VPNs that are not approved by state regulators. Approved VPNs must use state network infrastructure. Beijing has shut down dozens of China-based providers and it has been targeting overseas services as it bids to tighten its control over the internet, especially ahead of the Communist Party congress in August.

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.

While personal VPN providers have been the subject of state-led attacks in the past, this marks the first time Apple has complied with requests to scrub overseas providers from its store, a move that VPN providers say is unnecessarily supportive of China’s heightened censorship regime.

VPNs

Many VPN service providers have reported that Apple is removing their applications from the China App Store.

VPN provider ExpressVPN said on Saturday that it had received a notice from Apple that its software would be removed from the China App Store “because it includes content that is illegal in China”.

“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.

 

VPNs

 

Is this really a time for us to say goodbye to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter these “forbidden” website?

According to Apple, they just removed these apps from China store but will still be available in other countries and regions the providers selected.
China users with billing addresses in other countries will still be able to access VPN apps from other branches of the App Store. Creating a new account is also a solution.

 

VPNs

 

VPN providers say that while the apps are not available on the store, users are still able to manually install them using VPN support built into Apple’s operating system.

 

VPNs

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook clarified that the removal of Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps in China late last week was due to a stronger enforcement of the law by the local Chinese government.

 

Cook states that in 2015, China tightened its policy around VPNs which required operators to obtain a license from the government. “Earlier this year, China began a renewed effort to enforce that policy,” Cook says. As many of the apps did not comply with the regulations, Apple was required to purge them from the App Store. “We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever do we business.”

 

VPNs

 

Despite the VPN app removals, Cook stressed the company’s stance that it would offer products that are of the “best interest” of local consumers and hopes that China loosens the restrictions over time. “We believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree… because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate,” he says. With China continuing to be a big growth market for Apple, it’s clear that Apple would rather abide by the law to continue operating in the country.

 

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