Apple has removed a selection of apps providing virtual private network facilities from the Chinese App Store, stating the apps in question hadn’t acquired the necessary approval from the Chinese government.
VPN apps StarVPN, VyprVPN, and ExpressVPN have all been removed, but can be downloaded from stores outside China. VPN apps aren’t illegal in China, but the government ruled earlier this year such apps would require a license to operate. Apple told the BBC the apps removed did not have the license.
In a tweet, ExpressVPN said it was:
“Dismayed Apple sided with censorship, but we’re committed to keeping you connected.”
StarVPN also tweeted about the app’s removal:
“This is a very dangerous precedent which can lead to the same moves in other countries.”
VyprVPN’s developer Golden Frog wrote a long blog post about the removal of the app, saying that despite the app’s removal the VPN remains accessible in China, and even gives instructions on how to manually activate the VPN through iOS’s own system.
It’s not clear whether Apple will reinstate any of the affected VPN apps if they receive the required approval from the Chinese government.