The tech giant confirmed that the removal of the apps related to the company’s adherence to strict local laws.
Technology giant Apple has removed several apps including Skype from its app store in China. This comes after the country’s government pointed to violations of local laws. Skype is Microsoft Corp’s internet phone call and messaging service.
Apple has confirmed its move in a statement to local media. This came after almost a month of reports that the Skype service simply disappeared from Apple app stores in China. Other media have reported that the removal the apps led to several complaints from Chinese users who were unable to pay for Skye’s services through Apple.
It was also reported by some that disruptions to services already started in October. According to an Apple spokesperson, the company had been informed by the Ministry of Public Security in China that several voice over internet protocol apps did not comply with local law.
She added that it was for this reason the apps were removed from the App Store in China. But, Skype is only the latest addition to a growing list of internet platforms to become inaccessible in China.
Other services including Alphabet Inc’s Google services, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc were already not accessible to users in China. In response to foreign companies attempting to expand their user base across the country in recent years, Beijing has pursued a series of laws and regulations.
These have caused great concern to companies. In 2016, the Chinese government regulated online publication in an attempt to rein in the internet. This was done as officials perceived the web as a critical field for controlling public opinion and eradicating anti-Beijing sentiment.
Local media have reported that Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment. More recently, Apple sparked criticism after it removed software from its app store which allowed internet users to go round China’s’ Great Firewall. Internet users in China, have for years searched out ways of getting around heavy internet restrictions by using foreign virtual private network (VPN) services.
Beijing decreed, earlier this year, that all developers must obtain government licenses to offer VPNs. VPNs allow Chinese users to bypass blocks on sites like Facebook and Twitter. This was the first and foremost reason for Apples decision to remove the VPN-like software and some argued that it was evidence of the company bowing down to China’s tightening web censorship.
In January, Beijing passed several laws which sought to ban all VPNs which were not approved by state regulators. According to new local laws, all approved VPNs must use state network infrastructure.
Apple announced in July that it would remove all apps which do not comply with Chinese laws and these included services based outside the country. It was reported that around 60 apps were removed. At the time Apple told media companies that it was required to remove VPN apps which do not meet the new government regulations.