Apple CEO Tim Cook: Why we removed VPN apps in China

Amnesty International Law on VPN and anonymizers ban is crack-down on online freedom

Amnesty International Law on VPN and anonymizers ban is crack-down on online freedom

According to CNN and other sources President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill that prohibits services, including virtual private networks (VPNs) that enable users to skirt government censorship efforts. "In the case of China, the law is also very clear there".

An employee who answered the phone at Beijing Sinnet Technology Co Ltd, which operates Amazon's cloud business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), in China, confirmed the new policy to Reuters on.

Unlike in Russia, VPNs are still available in China but they require a license from the government. "In the case of China, the law is very clear there", Cook said.

"Their notice was meant to remind customers of their obligations", an Amazon spokeswoman told the newspaper.

VPNs are widely used in China to scale the complex system of blocks, filters, and human censorship known as the Great Firewall, and access content outside China. After at least two VPN apps were removed from Apple's App Store in the country, the government claimed that VPN usage was not banned but was 'regulated'.

Chinese rights activist Jia Pin said the apparent crackdown on VPNs will definitely make a difference to internet users in mainland China.

"We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business", he said. In a blog post, the company said that "all major VPN apps" including its own, had been removed without notice from the store. "Take me, for example".

"There really are a lot of VPN apps out there".

To recall, the law On Information, Information Technologies, and Information Security obliges operators of search engines to block references to the information resources included in the list of Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media) and also allows a supervising department to close the websites with information on ways of bypassing the block. It utilizes an encryption which hides the source of Internet traffic, giving the user the opportunity to view web pages and content banned in the country from which they are accessing the Internet space.

The 19 Communist Party National Congress was also among the reasons as to why Chinese authorities have been tightening up on nearly everything, from internet browsing to live-streaming websites and social media.

Back in June of this year, China passed a new cybersecurity law that bans the use of unapproved VPNs as well as requiring companies, including foreign cloud providers to put their data within the country. The People's Republic of China has issued a blanket ban of common websites like Facebook, Google, and many western media outlets, all of which are accessible within Russian Federation.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service.

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