Apple has come under immense criticism in China for blocking a number of apps that helped internet users evade internet censorship. A number of apps made to bypass the country’s great firewall, have mysteriously vanished from the tech giant’s app store.
ExpressVPN is one of the companies whose app has been taken off from the popular app store on claims it includes content that is illegal in China. Reports indicate that a good number of virtual private networks apps are no longer accessible on Apple Store.
“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, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts,” ExpressVPN wrote in a blog post
Apple on its defense maintains that the Chinese government had given developers offering VPN’s ample time to obtain a license for their apps.
Removal of the apps marks the first time that Apple has budged into the Chinese government request. The move continues to arouse concerns of how the tech giant has become deeply beholden with Beijing, at a time of fierce debate over censorship.
Beijing Growing Influence Over Apple
Beijing growing influence over Apple has not gone well with developers who fear government control of the internet could significantly affect their operations. Increased government control could also have a significant impact on Apple, given that China is the tech giant’s biggest market outside the U.S.
The company finds itself in a tight spot after operating its App Store in China for years with minimal run-ins with the government. Finding a balance between what the government and developers want, threatens to be the biggest challenge in the race to keep both parties happy.
Apple may have to play ball with the government if it wants to expand its footprint in China. The company is already in the process of opening its first data center in the country in line with new regulations that require foreign companies to store Chinese data in the country.