Following the censorship clampdown by the government in China, Apple has pulled at least 60 VPN – Virtual Private Network – apps from its China App Store over the weekend.
ExpressVPN received a notification about its app’s removal early on Saturday, according to a blog post.
Users outside China continue uninterrupted service though they continue to reside in China. The Chinese government recently began shutting down unauthorized VPNs, which essentially offered a way to circumvent country’s Great Firewall initiative. The government has also introduced new cyber security laws to address this issue, which includes foreign companies requiring to have their user data stored in local servers.
VPNs in China allow users to get through the government Firewall easily and it becomes difficult to the Chinese authorities to monitor all communications on the internet that tracks blockages. VPNs typically use encrypted traffic, making it a big headache for regulators in the PRC. Chinese authorities currently block access from multiple sites including Facebook, Twitter and more. The decision of blocking certain non-compliant VPNs was the result of ongoing security concerns, and this move is said to be an attempt to take down any encrypted messaging system that prevents authorities from reviewing outgoing or incoming web traffic.
We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations,” Apple told the New York Times in a statement. “These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”
Apple remained silent, with no additional comments. In a statement, it said it was required to remove the VPN access to comply with the new Chinese law. Star VPN has also removed the app to comply with Chinese law.
By blocking the VPNs, the government is encouraging users to start using WeChat. It is a social media application developed by local tech giant Tencent. The app is designed to censor messages that are considered to be sensitive by Beijing, without notifying its users. Also, it is considered more secure, as people are asked to use their real names rather than pseudonyms.