After removing major VPN apps from the its App Store in China last week, Apple amidst plenty of opposition has finally given out a statement explaining why it did the same.
The Cupertino giant has long been known for its stand on privacy so it was a bit surprising when the company took a complete U-turn when it came to its China market.
Apple then gave out a statement to TechCrunch explaining that China required all VPN developers to have a license issued by the government. So basically Apple pulled down "some" of the apps in China that did not meet regulations.
During Apple's quarterly earnings call, CEO Tim Cook gave a more detailed explanation regarding the move to take down those app from its China App Store.
The full statement as reported by TechCrunch is given below:
The central government in China back in 2015 started tightening the regulations associated with VPN apps. We have a number of those on our store. Essentially, as a requirement for someone to operate a VPN they have to have a license from the government there. Earlier this year, they began a renewed effort to enforce that policy. We were required by the government to remove some of the VPN apps from the app store that don’t meet these new regulations. We understand those same requirements on other app stores, as we check through that’s the case. Today there’s still hundreds of VPN apps on the app store, including hundreds by developers outside China. We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business. We strongly believe participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there and in other countries as well.
We believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree. This particular case, we’re hopeful that over time the restrictions we’re seeing are loosened, because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate. I know that is a major focus there. That’s sort of what we’re seeing from that point of view. Some folks have tried to link it to the U.S. situation last year. They’re very different. In the case of the U.S., the law in the U.S. supported us. It was very clear. In the case of China, the law is very clear there. Like we would if the U.S. changed the law here, we 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, we always do that. So, hopefully, that’s a little bit… probably more than you wanted to know, but I wanted to tell you. – Apple CEO Tim Cook
Cook's statement makes the company's intention crystal clear. Apple will always abide by the country's laws and will only take action with governments when it disagrees.
In China's situation the law prohibited the use of non-licensed VPN apps. In Apple's earlier case in the US Apple felt the need to fight for privacy simply because the law supported the company's ideologies.
Tim Cook did however point out that some of China's regulations need to be loosened for innovation to prevail. One which needs the "freedom to collaborate and communicate".