On Saturday, Apple removed all major VPN apps that could be used to evade government censorship from its App Store in China. Unsurprisingly, the firm said in a statement today that it’s simply complying with government regulations put in place earlier in the year.
New regulations put in place by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology require all VPN apps used in China to be explicitly licensed by the government. As a result, the iPhone maker company was “required” to remove these apps because they violate Chinese law.
Apple gave the following statement to TechCrunch:
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.
Zhang Feng, spokesman and general engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has confirmed that “China is tightening crackdowns on illegal internet connections, including unauthorized VPN (virtual private network) services”.
He added the move will not affect legal users of authorized VPN technology that can help them bypass the country’s Great Firewall.
Apple sent a note to the developers of affected apps, informing them that their apps were removed because they include “content that is illegal in China.” The removed VPN apps continue to be available for users across the world outside of China.
On a related note, Russian President Vladimir Putin just signed a law that prohibits VPN services, effectively preventing users from accessing websites that are banned in his country.
It comes into force on November 1.