dglobalnews.com Apple sets course for China policy minefield
Published: Tue, August 01, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Apple sets course for China policy minefield

Apple sets course for China policy minefield

This happened at the weekend, when ExpressVPN and VyprVPN - two of our top-rated VPN providers - found their apps dumped from the Chinese store, along with StarVPN.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple justified the move is a fairly prosaic way, treating the ban as just a case of following local laws as they would with any other country.

However, it is likely that Chinese authorities have forced Apple into a corner by requiring the removal with the fear the entire app store could be banned in China.

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

"Earlier this year", Apple said, "China's MIIT [Ministry of Industry and Information Technology] announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government".

"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". Since the official Google Play store - and all Google properties - is banned in China on an ISP level, the Chinese government doesn't need to get Google to take down VPNs, since Chinese users can't access Play altogether.

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Star VPN, which also provided VPN services on the App Store in China, tweeted that it, too, had been notified that all its apps would be pulled. According to the president of the firm which oversees VyprVPN, Sunday Yokubaitis, internet access in China was an issue of human rights and they were disappointed that Apple allowed profits to trump over the value of human rights. It is a social media application developed by local tech giant Tencent. And Chinese iOS users can still communicate with iOS users outside of China through the use of iMessage, Apple's proprietary messaging app, though research suggests iMessage is dwarfed in China by WeChat, a competing app that's grown popular due to its availability on the Android operating system. Xiaomi and Huawei, two of China's biggest domestic manufacturers, accounted for more than 29 percent of the market a year ago.

After censors succeeded in blocking Tor, VPNs became the tool of choice for "scaling the wall", in Chinese online parlance, and are used as much by government institutions, state-owned companies, and educational establishments as by the general public.

Apple's growth in smartphones is highly linked to the Chinese market.

Services were Apple's rare bright spot in its struggling China business and logged double-digit revenue growth in Greater China in January-March. China is the second leading market for Apple products after the United States.

"Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said "accessibility is a human right".

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