Apple Removes VPNs From China App Store

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An Apple spokesman in Shanghai told Reuters that China's regulations "require cloud services be operated by Chinese companies", so Apple will not only open its data center in China but partner with a Chinese data management firm - Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd - to offer iCloud.

ExpressVPN posted a statement to their website following a notice from Apple that they would no longer be able to carry their app, which would have allowed users in China to securely view parts of the internet that are banned in the country. Star VPN has also removed the app to comply with Chinese law.

While Apple has been quick to remove the VPN app from its apps store in China, those apps are likely still accessible to those in China who have a app store billing address outside the country. "Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed", ExpressVPN said in its blog.

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This news comes just a few weeks after China announced that a total ban on VPNs - with exceptions for some foreign businesses - would come into effect in February of next year. According to the president of the firm which oversees VyprVPN, Sunday Yokubaitis, internet access in China was an issue of human rights and they were disappointed that Apple allowed profits to trump over the value of human rights. China is Apple's largest market outside of the U.S., accounting for over one-fifth of Apple's total revenue in the 2016 fiscal year. This also helps them in remaining hidden from internet service providers.

China opposes the unrestricted access by its citizens and other residents of the global internet, blocking many key services and technologies like Facebook, Google search, and Twitter.

Sadly, some users didn't have as much success with their VPN providers. Critics call China's "great firewall" one of the world's most advanced censorship systems.

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Now, 33 years after the year of 1984, are we going to see 2017 become a bit more like 1984 - with Apple's assistance? 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.

It's too soon to say what Apple's decision on VPNs will mean for the future of its business in China, or for its policy battles elsewhere. The country has already restricted several China based providers and is now eying the overseas services to further tighten control over the information super highway.

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