Several VPN apps that were popular among users hoping to avoid censorship have been removed from the Chinese App Store by Cupertino based tech giant Apple. These virtual proxy network apps are used to access information and communicate without being blocked by the Chinese government’s internet filters. Apple states that the removal of these apps was necessary to comply with China’s legal requirements. The Chinese government requires that all VPN apps be registered before they can be legally used in that country.
One app maker, ExpressVPN, voiced their displeasure in a letter posted to their website. “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 strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties.”
The president of Golden Frog, maker of VyprVPN, also expressed disappointment that their app had been removed. “We view access to internet in China as a human rights issue, and I would expect Apple to value human rights over profits,” he said.
Users in China can still access and use unlicensed VPN apps on their Apple devices by accessing stores in other nations. They can simply use a billing address outside of China. ExpressVPN and similar apps also remain available in China on Mac, Windows and Android platforms.