The tech giant, Apple appears to have finally complied with the wishes of Chinese censors and removed all major VPN (virtual private network) apps from its App Store in China. This means Apple users in China can not avail online anonymity anymore and their privacy is at high risk.
VPN provider ExpressVPN was the first one to notice the issue when their app was removed from the App Store. Upon further digging, ExpressVPN discovered that Apple had removed all major VPN apps from the App Store. Other major providers who also received the notice from Apple, include VyprVPN and StarVPN.
What is a VPN?
VPNs allow users to mask their identity online by funneling web browsing and other internet activity through another computer – sometimes one in a different country. As a result, users can hide their IP addresses and access online material that has been censored or blocked by their internet service provider.
Why did Apple remove the VPNs in China App Store?
China is well known for its online censorship and surveillance tactics. It has for many years censored content it sees as politically sensitive, using an increasingly sophisticated set of filters called the “great firewall.” And the VPN is the only way for users to bypass this Chinese internet censorship system.
In January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. And Apple said it was required to remove some VPN apps from its store because they didn’t comply with those regulations.
ExpressVPN said that it was disappointed to see Apple “aiding China’s censorship agents,” and condemned the removals.
However, it is still possible for users to create an App Store account under a fake identity from another country, and download the apps from the app store.