Apple has removed VPN services from Chinese app store

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ExpressVPN, a major service provider, said that it received a notification from Apple on Saturday saying that its software will be removed because "it includes content that is illegal in China".

While this move on its own will pose an inconvenience to Apple users, it's unlikely to be the last piece of bad news for local VPN providers in China.

Apple faces more competition in China because consumers rely more heavily on apps available across multiple mobile platforms instead of OS-provided apps and infrastructure.

In a statement, Apple said that earlier this year, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government.

On Sunday An Apple spokeswomen are confirmed it will remove the app that does not comply with the law in China App Store. Under the circumstances, the VPNs served as a means for the populace to bypass the strict internet censoring laws and access sites otherwise blocked in the country by law. Similarly, Russia introduced new legislation that will likely ban VPNs in the Russian App Store. From your internet service provider's point of view, it would look like you were just connecting to an IP address in France.

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Chinese internet users have become adept at circumventing the complex array of blocks, filters, and human censorship deployed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to control what its citizens can see online. But now some of those policies are affecting Apple, one of the few remaining US tech giants with a presence in the country - and the issue is raising questions about Apple's moral standing around the world. Some of Apple's critics have suggested that by not doing the same, it not only loses the moral high ground but also sets a precedent that other governments, including the United States, will seek to exploit. In its most recent rankings, the advocacy group Freedom House called China "the year's worst abuser of internet freedom".

VPNs let users visit websites restricted by the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, China may be teaching a lesson to countries that purport to support free speech and individual rights of privacy by showing that a firm stance and regulatory power can be wielded to restrict access to tools that have a legitimate objective.

The company recently named Isabel Ge Mahe to be its first vice president and managing director of its business in Greater China, starting later this summer.