Apple Pulls VPN Apps From China App Store As Russia Signs Law Banning Their Use

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Russia has banned VPNs and other software that enables users to gain anonymous access to websites. The new law was signed by President Vladimir Putin on Monday and will come into effect on November 1st (via TechCrunch).

Leonid Levin, chairman of the Duma's committee on information policy and technology, was quoted by state-run media as saying that the new law is not targeted at "introducing new bans for law-abiding citizens" but aims to prohibit access to illegal content.

However, privacy advocates see the law as another way for the Russian government to restrict access to political content that it disagrees with. In 2015, it became mandatory for all user data from Russian citizens to be stored in Russian-based servers, and last year another law was passed making it necessary for internet service providers to retain traffic data for up to a year.

Recently the government also threatened to block access to the Telegram encrypted messaging platform unless the company that runs the app provides more information about itself.

Elsewhere, virtual private networks took another blow over the weekend, as reports emerged that Apple has removed the majority of VPN apps from the App Store in China, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.

The action was first revealed by ExpressVPN, a provider based outside of China. The company said in a blog post that "all major VPN apps" including its own had been removed from the App Store.
"We're disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China's censorship efforts. ExpressVPN strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties," ExpressVPN wrote on its blog.
The company shared a note from Apple explaining that its app was removed because "it includes content that is illegal in China". A few hours later, Apple issued a statement to TechCrunch explaining its decision to pull the apps from the App Store:
Earlier this year China's MIIT announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations. These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.
Earlier this month, China reportedly started blocking some features of the WhatsApp messaging service, as authorities continued to tighten controls over the country's internet.

Update: During Apple's third quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple pulled VPN apps in China due to China's renewed effort to enforce the policy that prohibits them.

"We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business." Cook went on to say that he hopes China will ease up on the restrictions over time."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple Pulls VPN Apps From China App Store As Russia Signs Law Banning Their Use
 

dmunz

macrumors regular
Aug 24, 2010
175
44

How will this affect VPNs that are brought into China (and Russia) on travel? If I have a banned VPN on my iPad, will it still work if I travel to one of those countries and try to connect? That is where I can see a business getting hung out. If we are protecting IP with a VPN for our travelers and it is now banned and off-line (or worse yet, your device is ceased at the port of entry...)

TIA
DLM

EDIT: Not sure what happened, but it originally looked like I was replying as MacRumors...
 

robjulo

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2010
1,347
2,255
Those things are only important to Tim until they affect the bottom line. He's had no problems dealing with dictatorships, countries that trample civil rights and rap stars who have abused women.

“Diversity” and “free expression” are only preached by Apple unless it’s NIMBY and the consumers keep coming, huh, Tim? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

Stormbringer

macrumors regular
Jul 20, 2007
191
0
Sorry, what is exactly the connection with "restrict access to political content that it disagrees with"? What political content is only available by VPN?
 

manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
6,555
2,555
How will this affect VPNs that are brought into China (and Russia) on travel? If I have a banned VPN on my iPad, will it still work if I travel to one of those countries and try to connect? That is where I can see a business getting hung out. If we are protecting IP with a VPN for our travelers and it is now banned and off-line (or worse yet, your device is ceased at the port of entry...)
It's extremely unlikely that anything will happen to you or your devices. China will be trying to some degree to disrupt your VPN service through technical means, as it has done for years already. China isn't North Korea were a wrong move can land in jail or worse.
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
1,403
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So the tyrant's and non democratic states are starting to do this. How long till the 5 eye's members will be saying they need this too, "for security"?

Sad, Apple has to go along with this, but it goes to show you can't depend on publicly traded for profit companies to protect you're privacy (although Apple will seemingly do more than any other computer company) - its your government that has to do that - once you loose your government at your back its only a matter of time, as they control the rules of the table the company has to play in.

Sorry, what is exactly the connection with "restrict access to political content that it disagrees with"? What political content is only available by VPN?
From what I understand, virtually any mainstream news site outside the country - you could guess social media would get mixed in there as well.
 

manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
6,555
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Sorry, what is exactly the connection with "restrict access to political content that it disagrees with"? What political content is only available by VPN?
Foreign news sites, foreign NGOs, foreign social media, particularly the ones with content in Chinese or English. In general, anything that is critical of the Chinese government. What do you think the Great Firewall has been blocking all along?
 

LovingTeddy

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“Diversity” and “free expression” are only preached by Apple unless it’s NIMBY and the consumers keep coming, huh, Tim? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LOL...If Apple wants to do business in China and Russia, Apple need and must obey and respect China and Russia respective law.

If Tim or any think vaule is more important, then learn from Google, pull out from China and Russia.

I don't think Chinese and Russian citizen will give a damn, overall, iPhone's market share in China is low.
 

Zirel

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Jul 24, 2015
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Those things are only important to Tim until they affect the bottom line. He's had no problems dealing with dictatorships, countries that trample civil rights and rap stars who have abused women.
First uninformed comment of many,

It doesn’t matter if Tim removes them from the AppStore or not, the IP's will be blocked.

So, if Tim left the apps on the AppStore, Chinese costumers would have a lot of apps they simply cannot use in any way, even if they they (Apple) pay or not. In other words, you’ll be downloading a scam app.

But don’t mind me, keep hating, and buy an Android.
 
Last edited:

LovingTeddy

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Oct 12, 2015
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Foreign news sites, foreign NGOs, foreign social media, particularly the ones with content in Chinese or English. In general, anything that is critical of the Chinese government. What do you think the Great Firewall has been blocking all along?
It has been blocking all along, though Chinese government has not been act on VPN and other method of access illegal contents.

Currently, with all the "harmful" content, according to Chinese government, Chinese government decided to ban VPNs.

I think though for the foreigners who work and study in China, who are in special economy zone, they still able to access internet unrestricted. Great Firewall doesn't work with foreigners using foreign carrier roaming services (roaming for prolonged time will getting very expensive)
 

Zirel

Suspended
Jul 24, 2015
2,196
3,008
How will this affect VPNs that are brought into China (and Russia) on travel? If I have a banned VPN on my iPad, will it still work if I travel to one of those countries and try to connect? That is where I can see a business getting hung out. If we are protecting IP with a VPN for our travelers and it is now banned and off-line (or worse yet, your device is ceased at the port of entry...)

TIA
DLM

EDIT: Not sure what happened, but it originally looked like I was replying as MacRumors...
Your VPN won’t work with a Chinese carrier/ISP.

Enjoy communism.
 
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nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
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First uninformed comment of many,

It doesn’t matter if Tim removes them from the AppStore or not, the IP's were being blocked.

So, if Tim left the apps on the AppStore, Chinese costumers would have a lot of apps they simply cannot use in any way, weather they pay or not. In other words, you’ll be downloading a scam app.

But don’t mind me, keep hating, and buy an Android.
at least some of the VPNs removed from the app store did and do still work at present, FYI.
 

LovingTeddy

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Oct 12, 2015
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Your VPN won’t work with a Chinese carrier/ISP.

Enjoy communism.

At least Communism brought China to second largest economy... We Chinese are enjoying our life under Communism eceryday... I have lived aboard for past few years and I have seen the inefficiency and slowness underlined in western democracy... I truely believe CPP is only party can govern China and Western style democracy won't work with China.
[doublepost=1501505990][/doublepost]
We shouldn't even have open trade relations with them in the first place. The Chinese government has starkly different moral values from us, including many human rights violations which we somehow manage to ignore. I really don't get it.

Why would you not though? You don't but others do... You are the one that left behind not others.

There are two schools of thought: You block them and thinking they will overthrow the government, but did it work with North Korea? No

Or you trade with them and citizen from that country will at least have their lives improved. Social changes and ideologied changes overtime. Leaving China along certainly doesn't help.
 
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nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
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Currently, with all the "harmful" content, according to Chinese government, Chinese government decided to ban VPNs.
Let me give a recent example, and one reason I think the chinese government doing this isn't all that crazy. there's a ****ton of people out here, and that means you get plenty more hysterical idiots than is usual. a couple of weeks back there was a guy with a knife who attacked some people in a walmart, i believe he had mental health issues, and if i remember right 3 or 4 people died. however, my wife saw all sorts of stories coming through on wechat or weibo, and the first thing she told me was that 20 people had been killed. by a single guy with a knife. i'm not in any way saying this event wasn't horrible, but what's even worse is idiots who can't be trusted not to spread fake news and create mass panic. in this case, the censors were onto it fairly quickly, removing the - pardon the expression - chinese whispers. there's two sides to everything; now imagine these stories were on facebook or something the government couldn't control, and how quickly things might escalate?

I'm not a Chinese national. I come from a much smaller but relatively powerful country; the demographics of China and especially the top tier cities are such that honestly, until you've experienced living here then you really can't compare it to the US or other countries. What if the next set of fake news suggested Trump had bombed China? How would America feel about 1 and a half billion angry Chinese people raining down on them?
 

curtvaughan

macrumors 65816
Dec 23, 2016
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We shouldn't even have open trade relations with them in the first place. The Chinese government has starkly different moral values from us, including many human rights violations which we somehow manage to ignore. I really don't get it.
Where have you been since Trump was installed in January? For example:
https://www.alternet.org/media/capi...a-orders-journalists-delete-photos-and-videos
It's also the case that most iPhones are assembled in China, and most of the components/parts come from various other Asian nations. Most large "U.S." companies, from clothing to autos to high tech, outsource their parts and/or labor to Asia, or wherever they can get the cheapest labor and parts. How in the world (pun sort of intended) would a trade embargo of some sort really work? We live in an era of multi-national corporations. The problem, socially and economically, is that no international version of "labor union" exists to counterbalance corporate grip on production, wages, and price.
 
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Krizoitz

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2003
1,107
488
Tokyo, Japan
“Diversity” and “free expression” are only preached by Apple unless it’s NIMBY and the consumers keep coming, huh, Tim? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And what, pray tell, would you have Apple do? Tell China no? That may work in the US (for now at least) and other western countries where the leaders are constrained by the courts and rule of law, but in China they have no such option. If Apple doesn't remove the offending content, then the App Store in China goes dark, as well as Apple's ability to sell iPhones and other wares in China. Apple has no leverage over the Chinese government. There are plenty of alternatives for Chinese customers to buy in China, and I guarantee you Chinese citizens aren't going to try and topple their government just because they can't get an iPhone. Its unfortunate that Apple, or any company, is in this position, but thats the way the world is.

Apple DOES do a lot of privacy, speech, underrepresented groups. They have also pushed the envelope on improving treatment for factory workers in China. But they aren't all-powerful. Tim Cook can't tell President Ji Xingping what to do.

Educate yourself on the topic at hand and understand that this is a messy, complicated, and difficult situation.

"But what about Google, they walked away!"

Yes, and Apple COULD do that, and you can make an argument they should, but its not a slam dunk either way. What does walking away do? It doesn't change China. It doesn't push them towards a more open government. It just means someone else, either Samsung, or one of the many Chinese companies is selling more phones. And Google didn't actually walk away, they tried redirecting traffic to their Hong Kong site, which was partially successful for awhile, now its mostly blocked. But Google still has offices in China for R&D as well as Android sales, so they didn't bail either. Also, Google search was never big in China to begin with, Baidu is way more popular, so "pulling out" cost them very little.
 

chucker23n1

macrumors 68040
Dec 7, 2014
3,812
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“Diversity” and “free expression” are only preached by Apple unless it’s NIMBY and the consumers keep coming, huh, Tim? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What do you want Apple to do, shut down the Chinese App Store?

Let me give a recent example, and one reason I think the chinese government doing this isn't all that crazy. there's a ****ton of people out here, and that means you get plenty more hysterical idiots than is usual. a couple of weeks back there was a guy with a knife who attacked some people in a walmart, i believe he had mental health issues, and if i remember right 3 or 4 people died. however, my wife saw all sorts of stories coming through on wechat or weibo, and the first thing she told me was that 20 people had been killed. by a single guy with a knife. i'm not in any way saying this event wasn't horrible, but what's even worse is idiots who can't be trusted not to spread fake news and create mass panic. in this case, the censors were onto it fairly quickly, removing the - pardon the expression - chinese whispers. there's two sides to everything; now imagine these stories were on facebook or something the government couldn't control, and how quickly things might escalate?

I'm not a Chinese national. I come from a much smaller but relatively powerful country; the demographics of China and especially the top tier cities are such that honestly, until you've experienced living here then you really can't compare it to the US or other countries. What if the next set of fake news suggested Trump had bombed China? How would America feel about 1 and a half billion angry Chinese people raining down on them?
So your argument is that, because people might spread fake news, and those fake news might be taken seriously by too many, any piece of information should have prior government approval before it is published?
 

LovingTeddy

Suspended
Oct 12, 2015
1,848
2,146
Canada
Let me give a recent example, and one reason I think the chinese government doing this isn't all that crazy. there's a ****ton of people out here, and that means you get plenty more hysterical idiots than is usual. a couple of weeks back there was a guy with a knife who attacked some people in a walmart, i believe he had mental health issues, and if i remember right 3 or 4 people died. however, my wife saw all sorts of stories coming through on wechat or weibo, and the first thing she told me was that 20 people had been killed. by a single guy with a knife. i'm not in any way saying this event wasn't horrible, but what's even worse is idiots who can't be trusted not to spread fake news and create mass panic. in this case, the censors were onto it fairly quickly, removing the - pardon the expression - chinese whispers. there's two sides to everything; now imagine these stories were on facebook or something the government couldn't control, and how quickly things might escalate?

I'm not a Chinese national. I come from a much smaller but relatively powerful country; the demographics of China and especially the top tier cities are such that honestly, until you've experienced living here then you really can't compare it to the US or other countries. What if the next set of fake news suggested Trump had bombed China? How would America feel about 1 and a half billion angry Chinese people raining down on them?

Hey... I lived in China for 16 years and I know in and out how Chinese people live.. my wife is from China and we keep close communication with Chinese family and friend.

I think in one hand Chinese government trying to protect social orders and truly harmful content from its citizen and I think it is good. On other hand, Chinese government does its way to slience its citizen in a way they cut off outside information. It goes two ways. Finding balance is the hardest part.

Though Chinese citizen like me and my wife has enjoyed China's economic success. Both my family and my wife's family life hagr been dramatically improved over decades or two decades ago. This is more important for most Chinese citizen.

Be honest, Chinese citizen human right has been dramatically improved from past decades. People are able to express themselves though controlled environment and Chinese government has been very careful these days. Gone are old days prior get death sentence without proper trials.

Really, China got ride of its emperor 100 years ago and after several decades of war and chaos, change and ideologies cannot change that fast. It took how many years fot Black people have right to vote? It took how many years for women to vote?
 

nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
3,246
1,933
So your argument is that, because people might spread fake news, and those fake news might be taken seriously by too many, any piece of information should have prior government approval before it is published?
Nope, I'm arguing there should be the ability to control that spread of fake news. Widespread use of VPNs dilutes that. Like @LovingTeddy says above, it's about finding balance. But people on the outside really can't be the arbiters of said balance, because the mindset of people living in China is just so different. Go to the plains of Africa and read the Constitution to a lion, and see what it does next. It's a different set of circumstances.
 

Chupa Chupa

macrumors G5
Jul 16, 2002
14,834
7,394
We shouldn't even have open trade relations with them in the first place. The Chinese government has starkly different moral values from us, including many human rights violations which we somehow manage to ignore. I really don't get it.
China has the biggest standing army in the world and a nuclear arsenal that can easily reach any mainland U.S., Asian, or European city, even simultaneously. No country or countries or international body is going to risk potential annihilation or blood bath by prominently escalating China's lack of human rights, much as they'd like to. It's done "behind the scene" as much as possible, but China is a powerhouse and mostly immune to world pressure. It can't be pushed around.
 

ThisIsNotMe

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Aug 11, 2008
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How will this affect VPNs that are brought into China (and Russia) on travel? If I have a banned VPN on my iPad, will it still work if I travel to one of those countries and try to connect? That is where I can see a business getting hung out. If we are protecting IP with a VPN for our travelers and it is now banned and off-line (or worse yet, your device is ceased at the port of entry...)

TIA
DLM

EDIT: Not sure what happened, but it originally looked like I was replying as MacRumors...
When traveling internationally, it is you responsibility to be informed of and understand/comply with local laws.
 
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