Amazon Follows China's Internet Censors

Janie Parker
August 3, 2017

Apple is defending its recent decision to remove many virtual private network services from the App Store in China despite criticism by several VPN providers and privacy advocates. Essentially, as a requirement for someone to operate a VPN they have to have a license from the government there.

After adopting tighter regulations on VPNs in 2015, the Chinese government began cracking down on VPNs earlier this year. In a blog post, the company said that "all major VPN apps" including its own, had been removed without notice from the store.

Some saw Apple's removal of the VPN apps as a way to appease the Chinese government, a market Apple relies heavily on for sales of its devices.

In a statement on Sunday, an Apple spokeswoman confirmed it was in the process of removing apps from its China store that did not comply with Chinese law.

"We believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree", he said.

Taken together, the recent moves by Apple and Amazon show how Beijing is increasingly forcing America's biggest tech companies to play by Chinese rules if they want to maintain access to the market. China's government made a decision to tighten the Internet restrictions in the country and ban VPNs, which also led to the removal of some VPN mobile apps of major developers, in order to meet the new regulations.

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Interestingly (perhaps also sadly), most Chinese websites consciously used titles like "Russia bans VPNs too!" or "Russia follows China to ban VPNs" or "Russian netizens are furious about the ban on VPNs" to strike a chord among Chinese readers. "In the case of China, the law is very clear there", Cook said.

VPNs are popular with US employees visiting foreign nations and who want to secure company data, reduce the risk of cybercrime and keep proprietary information private.

They were also hopeful that the restrictions will ease eventually as innovation really needs freedom to work together and communicate. The country's government knows this but has let the practice continue, to an extent - in part because it is good for business and helps academic research.

Back in June of this year, China passed a new cybersecurity law that bans the use of unapproved VPNs as well as requiring companies, including foreign cloud providers to put their data within the country. "And like we would if the USA changed the law here, we'd have to abide by them in both cases, that doesn't mean that we don't state our point of view in the appropriate way".

Customers of Amazon, along with those of Apple Inc., are facing pressure in China to comply with the Chinese government's desire to further tighten the screws on its already heavily policed internet. That doesn'tmean that we don't state our point of view in the appropriate way, we always do that. The company removed multiple apps belonging to the New York Times from the App Store in China in December.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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