Apple has taken down virtual network providers, or VPNs, from its App Store in China, succumbing to the government's pressure to maintain the internet censorship in the country.
The "Great Firewall of China" is the name given to the censorship technology that the government applies to restrict the websites that citizens can access. Some Chinese users have used VPN apps, which masks their original IP to make them appear that they are accessing the internet from another location, to bypass the Great Firewall. However, for iOS device owners, this method is no longer possible.
Apple Takes Down VPNs From Chinese App Store
VPN service providers have reported that Apple has taken down their apps from China's App Store, accusing the company of giving in to pressure from the Chinese government.
The government has ordered the shutdown of dozens of Chinese VPN providers, and has extended the crackdown to providers based overseas ahead of the Communist Party congress in August.
"We're disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date," the company said.
"We view access to internet in China as a human rights issue, and I would expect Apple to value human rights over profits," said President Sunday Yokubaitis of Golden Frog, the creator of VyprVPN which was also affected by Apple's action.
Users with billing addresses in other countries will still be able to download and use VPN apps in China. However, for most Chinese users, their iOS devices are no longer able to access the unfiltered internet.
Why Did Apple Give In To China's Demands?
Apple's decision to succumb to China's pressure and take down VPN providers from the country's App Store follows the company's move in announcing its first data center in China in the southwestern province of Guizhou, also to comply with a regulation for foreign firms to store a bigger portion of their data within the country.
Apple is likely giving in to China's demands because the country is the company's biggest market outside of the United States. To maintain its high level of profits in the country, Apple has been forced to follow Chinese laws to keep at the government's good side.