Apple removed iOS VPN apps from Chinese App Store in compliance to censorship law

In compliance with Chinese Internet monitoring law, Apple has started removing all IOS VPN apps from it App Store in China.

The company complies with a request from the Chinese Government that wants to strict censorship making it harder for netizens to bypass the Great Firewall system (aka Golden Shield project).

The Golden Shield project allows China to censor Internet and block access to major foreign websites in the country, it is already blocking some 171 out of the world’s 1,000 top websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox.

In a blog post, the developers at VPN service provider ExpressVPN reported how the tech giant Apple informed them that their VPN app had been removed from the official Chinese App Store.

“We received notification from Apple today, July 29, 2017, at roughly 04:00 GMT, that the ExpressVPN iOS app was removed from the China App Store. Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed.” reads the blog post.

“Users in China accessing a different territory’s App Store (i.e. they have indicated their billing address to be outside of China) are not impacted; they can download the iOS app and continue to receive updates as before.”

The same thing is happening to all major VPN providers that are receiving a similar notice from Apple.

To bypass Chinese censorship  Chinese citizens use virtual private networks (VPNs), but earlier this year, China increased the pressure on VPN service providers making it mandatory for them to be authorized by local authorities.

The decision to ban VPN services and proxies is part of the  “clean-up” of China’s Internet connections launched by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“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,” continues ExpressVPN statement.

Another VPN service provider, Star VPN, also received same notice from Apple.

“We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China,” Apple said in the notice. “We know this stuff is complicated, but it is your responsibility to understand and make sure your app conforms with all local laws.”

A few weeks ago, Apple announced it is setting up its first data center in China in the southern province of Guizhou to comply with new Government cyber security laws that request tech giants to store data related to Chinese customers locally.

Pierluigi Paganini

August 3, 2017

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