Apple has removed Virtual Private Networking (VPN) apps from the Chinese App Store in order to comply with expanded government restrictions against VPN’s. VPN apps help users get around the extremely restrictive Chinese government rules on internet usage, allowing them to access information from the outside world.
AppleInsider reports developer ExpressVPN received a notification on Saturday that Apple was pulling their app from the Chinese App Store. The VPN provider says a preliminary check showed other major VPN apps were also being removed from the store.
From the ExpressVPN blog post:
We received notification from Apple today, July 29, 2017, at roughly 04:00 GMT, that the ExpressVPN iOS app was removed from the China App Store. Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed.
Users in China accessing a different territory’s App Store (i.e. they have indicated their billing address to be outside of China) are not impacted; they can download the iOS app and continue to receive updates as before.
The Chinese government’s restrictions on VPNs are only part of the Chinese government’s new “cybersecurity laws” which restrict user’s internet usage more than ever. The new laws also require foreign companies that store Chinese citizens’ user data to do so on servers based in China. Earlier this month, Apple took steps to comply with the new regulations by launching its first China-based data center.