China’s crackdown on VPNs has prompted Apple to withdraw “some” VPN applications from the Chinese App Store.
In January, China’s government outlawed all VPNs that had not secured approval from state regulators, as these offer a workaround to the country’s infamous ‘Great Firewall’, allowing users to access foreign websites. Approved VPNs are required to use the infrastructure of the state network.
Apple has stated that any apps that do not have a government licence will be taken down from the store, but noted: “these apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”
The ban has prompted outrage among VPN service providers, many of which have levelled the accusation that Apple has needlessly acquiesced to China’s overly strict censorship demands due to pressure from the country’s top online regulators.
Apple also recently announced that it would establish its first Chinese data centre, to comply with Chinese laws implemented on 1st June requiring overseas firms to store data domestically, as well as preventing them from collecting and storing data that is not required for their services. The data centre will be part of Apple’s planned $1 billion investment in the southern province of Guizhou, which is among China’s less prosperous regions.
China’s government has been forcing local VPN providers to shut down as well as pressuring foreign VPNs to cement its control over the internet in the run-up to next month’s Communist Party congress.