Apple pulls VPNs from Chinese App Store

Free VPN: are VPNs safe? What are the hidden risks?

A search Saturday showed that a number of the most popular foreign virtual-private networks, also known as VPNs, which give users access to the unfiltered Internet in China, were no longer accessible on the company's app store there.

One firm, ExpressVPN, published a blog containing a letter allegedly from Apple which explained that the software had been removed from the store on the basis it included content that is illegal on the mainland.

"Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed", ExpressVPN said in a statement, calling Apple's move "surprising and unfortunate". Some users - those who have a billing address outside of China - can still download the apps from the App stores from other territories. A VPN is the only way for users to bypass the Chinese internet censorship system (the so-called "Great Firewall"), which has only grown more stringent in the two decades since it was enacted and prevents an estimated 700 million people from accessing politically inconvenient parts of the web.

Customers wait for the opening of an Apple store in Shenyang, Liaoning province, February 28, 2015. Government officials denied a story from Bloomberg, which stated that the country's mobile operators had been told to ban VPN apps by early 2018, but other steps have clearly been taken. This announcement led to huge criticism by VPN providers as they say that this removal is because Apple was unable to handle pressure from Beijing cyber regulators.

ExpressVPN claimed Apple was "aiding China's censorship effort".

Uttar Pradesh: Two SP MLCs, one BSP MLC resign from Legislative Council
The MLC while saying that more resignations from SP are in queue appreciated the PM's slogan "Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas". Former chief minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the BJP of being behind the resignations of his party MLCs.

Another company, Star VPN, also announced it had been contacted by Apple with the same notice.

The Internet is completely in control of the government and more regulation is put in place before Communist Party congress that would be held in August.

Apple is in the middle of a localisation drive in China, and named a new managing director for the region - a new role - this month. "[It's been a] disappointing morning but we will fight on". The firewall is "aimed at restricting access to overseas sites".

Chinese internet users have for years sought to get around heavy internet restrictions, including blocks on Facebook and Twitter, by using foreign virtual private network (VPN) services.

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