Apple's Tim Cook says removal of VPN apps from Chinese App Store was unavoidable


Over the weekend, Apple started to remove an unknown number of VPN apps for iOS devices that were available for download via its Chinese App Store. Developers and VPN providers were notified via email that their apps would be removed from the App Store “because it includes content that is illegal in China.”

Today, Apple's CEO Tim Cook tried to respond to criticism related to the removal of these VPN apps from the Chinese App Store. According to him, the issue was unavoidable as Apple was merely following new government regulations.


Furthermore, Tim Cook confirmed that there are hundreds of VPN apps still available in China, which are developed by people outside the country and can be downloaded via local App Store.

Apple's CEO said he's hoping the new restrictions imposed by the Chinese government will loosen up in the future since “innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate.”

source: AppleInsider

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20 Comments

1. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I think this is somewhat of a false podium that Apple is standing on in this situation. Remember when Apple defied the US government request to unlock an iPhone? They used the situation as a marketing ploy to say that they stand for security and privacy of their customers above all else, yet they were quick to take down these apps. It sounds as though either Apple only has the guts to stick it to the man when it looks like a government they can push around (i.e. a government they have lobbying control over) or that they really only care about their bottom line and not user's privacy or security. I hope consumers and the public alike do not let Apple slip by on this one.

3. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

When he say "we follow the law wherever we do business" He mean Apple's law

4. toukale

Posts: 625; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

What is it with Apple that causes people to throw out common sense? You do know one is the law of the land and the other was a forceful request (which Apple rightfully declined). Now if the US passes a law that require them to comply, you better believe they would.

9. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

A U.S. judge ordered Apple to unlock the phone. They refused to comply. I'm pretty sure that is considered breaking the law, don't you? It's called being I think you need to read up on the case.

10. toukale

Posts: 625; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Still can't see past your bias huh. 1)There is no law on the books requiring them to unlock the phone. 2)They do not currently have a software to do so (I am sure that's because they do not want to open that door). 3)There are court preceding that one needs to go through for those things and that include this little thing we call (Appeal) . 4)You need to have a better argument for your high horse position.

13. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

First of all, I don't have any kind of bias. I actually own Apple devices along with Android and have owned Windows Phones as well. Secondly, I would encourage you to go back to the case and reexamine it. There was indeed a law on the books that compelled the US Government to seek a request from a judge in order to force Apple to unlock the device. The only reason it never moved forward was because of a third party unlocking the phone first. Finally, my point in all of this was that Apple was quick to stand up to the US government but not the Chinese government. My point was that Apple was standing on this pedestal over a year ago saying they valued the individual right to privacy and would not comply like other tech companies. You cannot market yourself as that and at the same time comply with a government request that attacks privacy. Blackberry pulled out of Pakistan when they said they wanted access to their devices and that was a big market for them. The only reason Apple isn't doing so in this case is because they realize that profits are more important than actually standing up for a individuals right to privacy. Plain and simple.

14. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Oh and who could forget this quote: "If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right of privacy, we risk something far more valuable than money. We risk our way of life" - Tim Cook

11. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

In case you need to know which law that breaks, it would be considered being in contempt of court for refusing a judge's request. The only reason the case didn't go forward was because the FBI was able to unlock the phone using a third party.

15. toukale

Posts: 625; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Please, the judge never even asked them to unlock the phone, Stop spreading fud. Also, it was an 1820 law that says the government can asked. Apple's response was simple, "we do not have a key." It's a case the fbi was going to lose, when they realize this, they dropped it. So, stop with your history rewrite.

16. toukale

Posts: 625; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

The fbi was the one trying to compel Apple to unlock this, not an order from the judge, get your facts straight. When the judge started to ask tough questions from the fbi and the public sentiments started to shift against them and they realize they may lose this case and set a precedent against themselves in all future cases, they drop it. Stop with your history rewrites.

19. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

It was a California magistrate judge that signed the order. You can easily look this up. "A judge has ordered Apple to help the FBI access the cellphone of one of the San Bernardino shooters to aid in the investigation of the case." http://abcnews.go.com/US/judge-orders-apple-unlock-san-bernardino-shooters-phone/story?id=36989123 In fact, because Apple was afraid of being found in contempt of court they filed a motion after the FBI got the third party to unlock the device to vacate the original order.

6. superguy

Posts: 453; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

It's much easier to make a stand in your own country where you have a better understanding of what the laws are and what your rights are. Trying to do it in another country where laws are very different - and perhaps opposite - can be messy - even with local lawyers. I'm not an Apple fan by any means, but I think they're caught between a rock and a hard place. If there are other home grown VPN apps elsewhere, complying with Chinese law can at least allows the locals access that way even if not thru an official app store, instead of facing an out right ban or shutdown on their products.

7. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

It is painful to abandon Chinese market, so...

2. slow00

Posts: 97; Member since: Mar 08, 2017

Tim Cook: “innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate.” Apple Chief is spot on. This is the main reason Android is the most popular OS. Apple is dead in China anyway...so removing the VPN restrictions wont do any difference..

5. HansP

Posts: 542; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

The same Apple who called Google out for being hypocrites when they complied to the same censorship laws?

8. mikehunta727 unregistered

When did Apple say this? I'm curious

12. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1354; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Tim and Apple have lost all credibility when it comes to this issue. Apple capitulated to a tyrannical regime and abandon the many within the great firewall who wanted to see the truth and for themselves and not what the regime is feeding them. As US citizen we need to call out Apple on this and show our disapproval ( tech blogs, Apples Facebook and twitter pages etc). Apples response should have been what Googles response was - "Screw your we are abandoning your market have fun with your crappy knock offs". But no Tim and company show they have no backbone but the will fight the US government which got a court order for them to unlock a phone for national security purposes- giving a false face of we care about our users privacy - no. Here all they cared about was the won converted to the dollar. BAD APPLE!

17. toukale

Posts: 625; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

It's funny reading your own spin on Google's action when for the past 2 years Google have been doing their best in trying to get back into the China market. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/12/is-google-another-step-closer-to-being-unblocked-in-china.html

18. AxelFoley unregistered

.....and yet, they are still blocked, meaning they haven't capitilated to China's demands. Apple isnt't blocked, meaning they have caved, just as the article says. Is your point that Apple is better at caving than Google?

20. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1354; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Did you read your own link? look at what the key point are **Other Google functions under negotiation included "service functions that do not involve [politically] sensitive information," according to the lawmaker.** But no timetable had yet been set for Google's return, he said. ******Since Google pulled its search engine out of mainland China in 2010 after a bitter spat with Beijing over its strict censorship rules, the internet giant has from time to time expressed its desire to venture back into the world's biggest internet market.**** ***"China's principle is that you have to operate according to Chinese law if you want to enter the Chinese market," Liu said. "But if [Google] goes by Chinese rules, it would harm its global operation rules and [its image as] a fair, open platform. **** Yes, from time to time Google has express it desire to go back but it cant unless it violates its own open platform image thus it must even work out the details for parts of its business to comeback the "academic part first then the Science and culture but no news information or politics, which is what these VPN software was used for, and what google provides better than any other search engine. so that would mean that in china this debate we are having right now would be impossible. You would not be allowed to even express you love for all things Apple or Google because you would be censored. Thats unfair and something Apple should have stood up for against the Chinese regime

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