Recently Apple started to quietly remove all of the VPN apps from their Chinese App Store in order to comply with new regulations that were being put forward the Chinese government. Our own MacSentry app was in fact taken down as well.
David Kaye, a Special Rapporteur for the UN, penned a letter to Apple in order to find out exactly why they decided to roll over and easily remove the VPN apps off of the Chinese App Store. In the letter David Kaye questions Apple’s adherence to the UN guiding principles, particularly those that adhere to Business and Human Rights, and Freedom of Expression.
David Kaye also questions whether the Chinese government had actually asked Apple to take the apps off of their App Store or if Apple just simply did it themselves with no coaxing from the government at all.
Seeing how Apple stood fast in front of the FBI’s requests to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, it is quite a juxtaposition that Apple has simply taken down all of the VPN apps from their App Store. Apple state they were simply following the law in both of these situations.
It is really worrying for those that value their online privacy in China, it has long been known the extent of which the Chinese government is willing to go in order to filter the internet for its citizens. It is a huge shame that an icon such as Apple is not willing to fight in order to give their customers the privacy they deserve.
As such it comes down to the simple case of money, China is a very lucrative market for Apple, and it is one that is constantly growing. To make enemies with the Chinese government could easily see their products banned from sale in the country.
It is understandable that Apple would comply with these rules but the lack of any sort of fight is what really disappoints. David Kaye asks some interesting questions in his letter and it will be interesting to see Apple’s response, if they respond at all.