Apple’s recent decision to remove VPNs from the App Store has been highly criticized by the makers of several Virtual Private Networks.
According to sources, 60 VPNs have been removed over the course of the weekend. Apple stated that it was legally required to remove the VPNs since they did not comply with new regulations.
The highly successful company didn’t confirm the exact number of the removed apps, but it hasn’t denied the estimated number either. Apple stated that there are still dozens of legal VPN apps available.
One of the providers of the Virtual Private Network technology promised to file an appeal with the company. In case you don’t know what a VPN is or what it does, we’ll explain. VPNs help their users to hide their identity online by putting web browsing and similar internet activity through another computer, often located in a different country.
That means that users hide their IP addresses and have access to online material that they haven’t had access to before due to censorship or their internet provider blocking it.
The VPNs affected count up to 60 different providers, according to www.aso100.com. the company ready to issue an appeal is Golden Frog. The company says that since Apple states of seeing accessibility as a human right, that would mean that internet access should be seen as such and be chosen over profit.
The removed apps are still available in the App Store outside of China. But as for China itself, people in it have been using VPNs for years since the country has been censoring internet content with sophisticated filters known as the Great Firewall.
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The country’s decision has been highly critiqued, so much in fact that the advocacy group Freedom House dubbed China the year’s worst abuser of internet freedom. What VPNs do is allow people to avoid these filters and go to websites and use services that are otherwise banned in the country.
But there hasn’t been a legitimate ban on VPNs yet, considering that companies still use them freely under current laws. This new push to restrict the use of VPNs seems to be directed towards individuals and not companies.
The probable reason for Apple making such a move could be that in January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government.
Because of that, Apple was required to remove the apps because they didn’t comply with the regulations. And because of Apple’s major involvement with China, it is highly understandable why it doesn’t want to ruin the relationship with the country.
Earlier this month Apple also established its first data center in China, in conjunction with a local company Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry. Although Apple promised not to give out the encryption keys and compromise users’ privacy, some experts have suggested that housing data in China could create pressure for Apple to hand over data in future disputes.