Apple bans VPN apps on the App Store in China, Russia follows suit

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Apple is removing virtual private networks (VPN) services from its App Store in China. VPN service allows users to bypass China's so-called "Great Firewall" aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.


The move was first noted by ExpressVPN, a provider based outside of China, which said in a blog post “all major VPN apps” including its own had been purged from Apple’s China-based store. The company shared a note from Apple (below) explaining that its app was removed because “it includes content that is illegal in China.”

"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 said in a statement. Other major providers, including VyprVPN and StarVPN, confirmed they also received the notice on Saturday from Apple.

VPN providers say that while the apps are not available on the store, users are still able to manually install them using VPN support built into Apple's operating system.

Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin has passed a new law that bans VPN's and other technology that allows users to gain anonymous access to websites. The new law approved by the Duma, the lower house of the Parliament, will ban the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other technologies, known as anonymizers, that allow people to surf the web anonymously. It comes into force on Nov. 1.

Leonid Levin, chairman of the State Duma Committee on information policy and technology, has said that the law is not targeted at “introducing new bans for law-abiding citizens.” Instead, he claims it is to prohibit access to illegal content.

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