Apple and Amazon are two of the biggest tech companies in the world, so it is a little surprising to see both so keen to comply with the online censorship regime in China. But after the Chinese Communist Party passed a new law which attempts to ban VPNs in the country, both companies have been quick to get behind the new restrictions.
Apple removes VPNs from Chinese App Store
Shortly after the new law was passed, Apple agreed to remove more than 60 VPN apps from their Chinese app store. These included a number of smaller providers as well as some big names such as VyprVPN and ExpressVPN. Both are popular in China.
In a letter to the affected providers, Apple stated that their apps “includes content that is illegal in China”. Apple has provided no clear evidence of what is illegal, who has requested the removal of the apps, or what, if any, measures they have taken to try and retain the VPNs apps and protect their users privacy.
The decision to remove the apps has been slammed by customers, VPNs, and online rights campaigners. The UN’s Representative on Privacy has already written to Apple asking for the company to provide details of the reasoning behind their decision.
Amazon partner in China threatens customers
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Amazon’s Chinese e-commerce partner has contacted customers to instruct them to stop using VPNs as well. Due to restrictions already in place, Amazon can only to operate in China through local partner businesses.
Their hugely successful Amazon Web Services cloud business is operated by a company called Beijing Sinnet Technology Co Ltd. Last week, they sent out a very intimidating notice to stating that “If we discover (clients using unapproved VPNs), we will shut down services.”
An anonymous member of Amazon Web Services team told Reuters that the company had been forced to pass this message on to customers by the Chinese Communist Party. At a time when online freedoms are coming under increasing threat in China, it is a surprise to see companies like Amazon willing to play such a prominent role.
But the Chinese market is a very profitable one and many companies are willing to profits before principles. Sadly, Apple and Amazon appear to be two such companies and thanks to them, using a VPN in China has just become that bit harder. No wonder more and more Chinese people are visiting Taiwan and other neighbouring countries to download their VPN apps.