Apple Inc. recently began the process of removing VPN solutions and applications from their App Store, for users who maintain a billing address in the country of China. These actions are the impact of the Chinese government putting pressure on technology providers who ultimately allow users to circumvent the Great Firewall of China (GFW).
VPN solution providers, who distribute their services via the Apple App Store began receiving letters indicating that their application has been removed from the App Store in China because the software "includes content that is illegal in China." It is not clear when all VPN solution providers will be removed from Apple's App Store in China, but it appears to be a foregone conclusion.
While the solution providers face the fact that their software can no longer be sold in China, Apple is in the process of opening a new data center in China to comply with new cloud storage restrictions as well. This is reminiscent of late 2016, when Apple made the decision to remove applications which granted access to articles created by the New York Times.
The overall goal appears to remove any known measures to allow residents of China to get around restrictions imposed by the GFW to regulate the Internet domestically and provide censorship on behalf of their citizens from sites the communist state feels is not beneficial to their society as a whole.
While the VPN solution providers are now a causality of regulations imposed by the country of China, one must wonder what larger impact Apple's decision to comply will have for the Internet community as a whole. Certainly, by taking the compliance approach, Apple is in a better position to preserve their second largest consumer market (United States remains the number one market for Apple).
The evolution of technology has allowed our vast planet to become smaller, as our means to communicate and collaborate improve. The biggest impact from my perspective, is the isolation that can occur when censorship is applied on behalf of someone else. While the world may seem smaller to us, the ideals of certain governments can restrict our ability to communicate globally.
Whether you agree or disagree, access to the Internet is not a right to everyone and China is taking necessary action to protect their citizens.
What are your thoughts? Do you see a bigger impact on Apple's decision?
Have a really great day!