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Apple has restored Russian apps for social network VKontakte and webmail provider Mail.ru to the App Store, three weeks after removing them and other VK-owned apps in response to UK sanctions (via The Guardian).

vk-logo.jpg

The two services, which could be described as home-grown versions of Facebook and Gmail, were pulled following a package of sanctions enacted by the British government that affected tens of executives at Gazprombank, a Russian bank with links to VK. The sanctions were in response to sham referenda staged by Russian authorities in occupied areas of Ukraine.

"These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government," Apple said in a statement at the time.

It wasn't immediately clear why Apple restored the apps, since ownership of VKontake and Mail.ru has not changed since the apps were removed, and the leadership of Gazprombank and Sberbank remain sanctioned by the British government. However, it's possible Apple's decision was related to the use of both services by activists.

The apps re-appeared on App Stores globally on Monday, as flagged by monitoring project Apple Censorship. Benjamin Ismail, the project's director, told The Guardian:
The only thing we can say for sure is that, once again, Apple implements its App Stores policies in total opacity, thinking it will not be held accountable for its actions. While we are glad to see those apps restored, as some activists and members of civil society organisations were still using them when they were removed, we condemn Apple for its continuous, erratic, and non-transparent way of managing content in the App Store.
Both VKontake and Mail.ru apps were included in a list that Apple was legally obliged to show to new iPhone owners in Russia for download during initial setup, until Apple stopped selling its products in the country.

Update: A spokesperson for Apple shared the following statement:
The apps from this developer were removed from the App Store, as required by law, after multiple requests were made to the developer to provide documentation to verify that they were not in violation of UK sanctions. Subsequent to the removal, the developer has provided the requisite information verifying that they are not majority owned or controlled by a sanctioned entity. Thus, the apps have been reinstated to the App Store.

Article Link: Apple Restores Russian Social Network VKontakte and Mail.ru to App Store
 
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BigSmurf

macrumors regular
Feb 6, 2018
152
231
It is so lazy to criticise Apple (or other companies in similar situations) over this. They have to follow regulations. On the other hand unless they retract from several countries, they also have to follow the rules there.
 

neliason

macrumors 6502a
Oct 1, 2015
503
1,243
If the law hasn’t changed did Apple originally misinterpret the law? Or are they now flouting the law? Regardless, modern technology and an abundance of information doesn’t seem to be the cure for oppressive and overreaching government.
 

Skyscraperfan

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2021
783
2,232
If Apple blocks an app for any reason except fraud or cyber security, it is just pure censorship. If it is my phone, it should be my choice which apps I install. I still remember when Apple threatened a German newspaper app with blocking because it contained nudity. So Apple treats its customers like kids who should be protected from seeing female nipples.
 

Starscape

macrumors 6502
Sep 23, 2016
333
494
Florida and New York
It is so lazy to criticise Apple (or other companies in similar situations) over this. They have to follow regulations. On the other hand unless they retract from several countries, they also have to follow the rules there.

What regulations? Apple can withdraw any app at their discretion, which is clearly delineated with in their TOS. Just as companies withdraw physical products from the marketplace all the time. That aside, withdrawing service from a country actively engaging in war crimes would be more than reason enough.

In the case with Apple, this is about money, and I think most people understand that. And don't think for a moment that the common denominator for everything they do is not money.
 
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winxmac

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2021
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I was gonna say the comment section might get political and controversial but then I noticed that this is already categorized under Political News...
 
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genovelle

macrumors 68020
May 8, 2008
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What regulations? Apple can withdraw any app at their discretion, which is clearly delineated with in their TOS. Just as companies withdraw physical products from the marketplace all the time. That aside, withdrawing service from a country actively engaging in war crimes would be more than reason enough.

In the case with Apple, this is about money, and I think most people understand that. And don't think for a moment that the common denominator for everything they do is not money.
I disagree on the last point. Apple does what they believe is right at the time. As a public corporation they are required to ensure they are primary focused on building profitability.

With Apple they are more scrutinized for every move they make or don’t make than any other company, so they have to make every decision as if everyone is watching, because they are. Every choice is sprinkled with land mines.
 

genovelle

macrumors 68020
May 8, 2008
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2,686
I’m really puzzled at how the same party that cheered the loudest and proclaimed Ronald a political god for his part in the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, could Flipflop 180 degrees and support candidates that support Putin’s effort to recreate the Soviet Union by force and political interference.

A former top Soviet KGB officer skilled in propaganda is at the helm of a dictatorship.
 

Skyscraperfan

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2021
783
2,232
Apple created that problem by giving itself the power to block any app. So governments around the world will force Apple to use that power to censor what ever the government wants.

When it comes to encryption, Apple has another approach. Apple has built encryption in a way that even Apple can't access encrypted files or messages. So no government can force Apple to hand out an encryption key, as Apple does not have it. Apple should do the same thing when it comes to censorship. They could still ban an app from the App Store, but they should give a user an option to install an app anyway. That way no government could force Apple to block an app. Does Apple really want to become a tool for government censorship?
 
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applicious84

macrumors 6502a
Sep 1, 2020
521
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Apple has notoriously demonstrated that their choices prioritize shareholder value over human value. Even if something is ostensibly just, it’s calculated to sell more—and sometimes PR is the way to get there. And that’s the case with most companies that profit in wealthy countries.

Regulations. Class action lawsuits. Americans and Europeans don’t want to buy as much when products are sold or there’s collaboration with Russia and Iran. Lots of factors to calculate the bottom line.

But when occupying countries are similarly or more violent and genocidal, like the US and Israel, then Apple continues as is. There may be a statement or two, but there are overwhelmingly significant sales among allies, even if those countries are the longest occupying/violent powers today
 

opeter

macrumors 68030
Aug 5, 2007
2,684
1,606
Slovenia
If it helps the Russians to organize and overthrow Putin, I’m all for it. Preferably before he’s bombed every Ukrainian power plant, apartment block, and hospital.
I doesn't matter. Even if Putin is removed, someone else will come in to continue this policy. Because he has to, otherwise Russia will fall to pieces and other countries will eat it up. Rest assured, that Western countries have a big appetite, not just the Chinese, the Indians...

So to restoring these apps was a wise move from Apple. If they want to remain relevant in that region.
 

avz

macrumors 68000
Oct 7, 2018
1,794
1,875
Stalingrad, Russia
I doesn't matter. Even if Putin is removed, someone else will come in to continue this policy. Because he has to, otherwise Russia will fall to pieces and other countries will eat it up. Rest assured, that Western countries have a big appetite, not just the Chinese, the Indians...

So to restoring these apps was a wise move from Apple. If they want to remain relevant in that region.
I believe that the complexity of the situation is that if Russia will ever have a pro-Western government this will mean that both Russian and US nukes will point at China/India and literally force these countries to be a cheap world's factories for life at a minimal wage. Don't forget that there supposedly can be only one power.

So yes the historic mission of Russia is well understood by friends and enemies alike.
 
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The Phazer

macrumors 68040
Oct 31, 2007
3,002
964
London, UK
It is so lazy to criticise Apple (or other companies in similar situations) over this. They have to follow regulations. On the other hand unless they retract from several countries, they also have to follow the rules there.

This is literally impossible to be true - the sanctions have not changed. The ownership of VK has not changed. So either they are in breach of the sanctions now, or they made the initial removal despite not being required to.

Even if Apple is removing significant messaging platforms because they can't read, that is a good reason why they cannot be trusted with the sole right to sign and authorise software for billions of devices.
 
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