The removal of the apps, which help users get around China’s Great Firewall, began on Saturday, reports TechCrunch. While initially remaining mum on the VPN purge, Apple has now issued a statement regarding the move:
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.
The removal of VPN apps from the Chinese App Store is sure to be a politically sensitive issue for Apple. The Chinese market is incredibly important and lucrative to the company, which is surely the only reason Apple has, in effect, agreed to help the government censor which parts of the internet Chinese users can access. Now that this precedent has been set, how long will it be before Apple is asked by other governments to do the same?