VPNs Removed From The Chinese iOS App Store
VPNs have been removed from the China iOS app store.
A number of VPNs removed from the Chinese iOS app store have been part of China’s attempts to tighten up their great firewall.
Apple has complied with China’s requests to remove VPNs from the iOS app store. It’s now impossible to find a VPN from within the iOS app store whilst in China, which has made it far harder for Chinese iPhone users to access blocked content.
In China, many popular western websites are blocked. For example, both Facebook and Google are blocked by the Chinese government and they’re making it far harder for anyone within China to access these websites.
The reason China has been able to get VPNs removed from the Chinese iOS app store is that the VPN apps are now deemed illegal within China. As part of Apple’s policy, apps are required to comply with all legal requirements within the location they’re available in.
This means that whilst all VPNs have been removed from the Chinese iOS app store, the same VPNs are still available elsewhere.
According to some sources, VPN developers are able to get a license from the Chinese government, and in this case, they may be able to put their VPN service back on the iOS app store.
When asked about the issue, Apple responded by saying, “Earlier this year China’s MIIT 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.”
This means that Apple had no choice but to abide by these rules. There’s a lot of politics involved with the privacy of the internet, but in this case, Apple had no real say over the issue.
Some notable VPN providers that have been removed from the iOS app store in China includes ExpressVPN and Star VPN.
ExpressVPN responded by stating that they were, “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 strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties.”
Interestingly, despite the recent action taken on the iOS app store, the same VPN services are still available on other platforms.
ExpressVPN mentioned that, “Users in China can continue to stay connected to the open internet with ExpressVPN’s apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and other platforms.”
ExpressVPN ended their blog by saying, “Our commitment to an open and free internet remains stronger than ever, and we will continue the fight in helping our users to stay connected, no matter where they are located.”
Star VPN also mentioned the action taken against them in a small statement on Twitter. Star VPN wrote, “We just received notice that Apple removing all the VPN apps from the China app store.”
It’s most likely that these VPN services are still available to those with jailbroken devices.
In other news, it was revealed that a VPN service by Onavo was recently used by Facebook to track personal user data. The app could potentially use SMS tracking, app data tracking, and more to track users. With that in mind, perhaps the crackdown on VPN services is more understandable.