Giving in to the pressure created by the Beijing Internet regulators, the tech giant and one of the strongest voices of online freedom, Apple has removed all virtual private network (VPN) services from its Chinese App Store.
It was these VPN apps that allowed users to go beyond the "Great Firewall" of China, created by the authorities, restricting access to overseas websites.
Apple gives in to China's Internet rules
Why is this important?
China has one of the most stringent Internet rules, so much so, that most of the websites that are common in the outside world are inaccessible there.
They've counterparts, which are popular but authorities keep a strict eye on those too.
A tech-savvy Chinese millennial would use VPN apps to bounce his/her network connection in order to get access to those banned websites.
Rules & regulations
Curbing online freedom
The authorities got a whiff of this practice and in January they banned all VPN services that were not okayed by the regulators. The approved ones were directed to use state network infrastructure.
Now, Apple has decided to remove all those apps that are not in compliance with this rule and that include services that are not based in the country.
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The Chinese regime
Keeping the August date of Communist Party congress in mind, Beijing has been tightening its grip over the Internet. It has already throttled down several China-based providers and now it's going for the overseas ones.
Apple giving in to this, is unfortunate.
VPN provider ExpressVPN said it has received an Apple notice that says, its app will be removed from Apple's Chinese App Store.
It's a sad day for free Internet
Major players like VyprVPN and StarVPN have also received the notice informing them that their software will be taken off from the Chinese Apple App Store because it flouts the rules of the country.
The President of Golden Frog, which oversees VyprVPN, said to Reuters, "We are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure…disappointing morning but we will fight on."