A very severe crackdown on VPN applications in China forced Apple to withdraw applications from its store over the weekend, CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday during the call for company benefits with analysts. This Saturday, Apple talked to the creators of those applications because their VPNs had been removed because they included “content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the Review Guides of the App Store.” It was Tim’s words.
The company reported in a statement to the media that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China who had reported “that all developers who offer VPN must obtain a license from the government.” In comments giving more perspective, Cook said Tuesday that the company had no choice but to comply with the country’s regulations and expressed hope that the removal of the application would not be permanent.
“Obviously obviously we do not eliminate applications, but as we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business,” Cook said, according to a transcript provided by Apple. “We believe in engaging with governments even when we do not agree.” In this particular case, we hope that over time the restrictions we are seeing will loosen, because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate, “he said.
For months, China has been repressing virtual private networks, which allow people to move through the country’s infamous Internet filter, called the Great Firewall.
The use of VPN is one of the ways in which people within China can access news and social media sites, such as The New York Times, Twitter and Facebook, which have been banned by the government. Last month, China would have ordered three state-owned wireless companies to block people’s access to VPN before February 1.