Apple removed multiple virtual private network services from its App Store in China over the weekend, a move that some say illustrates Beijing doubling down on its internet censorship. VPNs are often used in countries like China and Russia to circumvent government firewalls and surveillance. “China’s (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government,” said an Apple spokesperson. “We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.” Multiple service providers expressed concerns about the decision. Star VPN said the move is a “dangerous precedent.” Another, ExpressVPN, said 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.” American whistleblower Edward Snowden also tweeted about the decision. “Apple has done much good for privacy and security in recent years, but actively assisting censorship crosses the red line of human rights,” he wrote.
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