Apple slammed for 'troubling' cull of VPN services in China

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"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". The company has now released an official statement on why these applications have been removed. One of the VPN manufacturers who's complained about their apps being expunged from the app store is Golden Frog.

VPN apps allow people to access websites that China blocks at an ISP level.

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"While your app has been removed from the China App Store, it is still available in the App Stores for the other territories you selected in iTunes Connect". VPNs give citizens a work around the so-called "great firewall of China" which not only censors politically sensitive websites, but also prevents access to other websites blocked in the country for fairly predictable reasons: Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube amongst others.

This news comes just a few weeks after China announced that a total ban on VPNs - with exceptions for some foreign businesses - would come into effect in February of next year.

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Apple finds itself trapped between the demands of a Chinese government in the midst of a crackdown on online content and the criticism of entities based outside the country agitating for a more open internet there.

Users outside China continue uninterrupted service though they continue to reside in China. But now some of those policies are affecting Apple, one of the few remaining USA tech giants with a presence in the country - and the issue is raising questions about Apple's moral standing around the world. Chinese authorities now block access from multiple sites including Facebook, Twitter and more. This regulation wasn't in favor of the VPN companies since the government couldn't have licensed apps that would be used to penetrate their media censorship programs. Xiaomi and Huawei, two of China's biggest domestic manufacturers, accounted for more than 29 percent of the market previous year.

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There's also evidence to suggest the rise of WeChat, which lets users do pretty much anything inside its ecosystem, has diminished the importance of the operating system among many consumers in China. Although Apple said it would keep the encryption keys and would not compromise the privacy of users, some pundits have suggested that housing data in China could form a pressure for Apple to pass data in future disputes. "China is such a key market for Apple that it has to listen". The country has already restricted several China based providers and is now eying the overseas services to further tighten control over the information super highway.

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