Apple removed all major VPN (Virtual Private Network) apps from its App Store in China to comply with the regulations passed by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology earlier this year. These VPN apps allowed users to gain access to websites anonymously. These apps helped users to bypass country’s censorship system.
On the other hand, President of Russia Vladimir Putin passed a law that will ban VPNs and other related technology in Russia. The new law will come into effect from November 1, 2017. Users will not be able to access banned or restricted using VPN technology after the law goes into effect.
The law has already been approved by Duma, a lower legislative house of the Russian Federation. According to RIA, state-run news agency, Leonid Levin, Head of Duma’s information policy and technology committee stated that the new law is not targeted at “introducing new bans for law-abiding citizens” but to prohibit access to illegal content surfaced on the internet.
Getting back to the China VPNs ban, Apple removed VPN apps from its App Store saying that “We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.” VPN providers like ExpressVPN and StarVPN criticized Apple and accused it of bowing to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators.
“We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts. ExpressVPN strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties,” said ExpressVPN in a blog post.
According to ExpressVPN, users have access to all the major VPN apps including its own on other platforms’ App Stores. Users in China can still access the open internet by downloading VPN apps from Windows, Mac, and Android App Stores.
According to Apple, VPN providers must obtain a license from the government to continue their business in China. The Chinese government illegalized VPNs in January and passed new rules requiring VPN providers to receive government approval in order to operate.
We can only say that these new laws are against the open internet and may put the privacy of internet users at risk.