Apple has disclosed that several apps have been removed from its Chinese app store after the government said that local laws had been violated. The apps include the messaging and internet phone call app developed by Microsoft known as Skype.
“We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law, therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement.
The App Store is not the only platform from which Skype has been removed as the various websites that users of Android mobile operating system can download it from in China have also removed the app. According to a spokesperson from Microsoft, Skype is still functional in China but had only been temporarily removed from the App Store. A representative from Apple indicated that will be reinstated once remedial actions have been taken to ensure it is not in violation of any local law.
VPN service apps
This is not the first time that Apple has been forced to remove apps on its platforms. Not long ago the Cupertino, California-based tech giant had to remove its Chinese iTunes Movie and iBooks services as well as VPN service apps that were on App Store. For many users in China the removal of VPN service apps was a big blow as these tools were essential in bypassing the government’s ‘Great Firewall’ which controls internet content.
This is also not the first time that messaging applications are being blocked or banned in China. Earlier in the year Facebook-owned WhatsApp was blocked. Other apps that are also unusable in China include Telegram, Line, Twitter, Facebook and Gmail.
Mid this year new cybersecurity laws were introduced and this is thought to be behind the blocking of Skype. Though the new law does not ban messaging apps that originate abroad, it is particularly tough on communication apps and tools which the local government deems hard or impossible to control.
But even without the new law China has a strict policy with regards to throttling or blocking foreign apps which might make it hard for the government to filter or control information flow in the country. Recently the LTE service of the cellular-enable Apple Watch Series 3 was shut down in China on the grounds that the government has no plans to control or regulate eSIM use.