Tim Cook defends Apple’s dumping of VPN apps from Chinese store

Over the weekend, Apple came under some heavy criticism for removing some VPN apps from its App Store over in China at the behest of the government, so it’s perhaps not surprising to see that Tim Cook has come forward to defend his company’s actions.

Apple’s CEO spoke out during the firm’s latest earnings call, noting that the VPN apps had to be removed due to China tightening its regulations concerning virtual private networks – and stipulating that VPN providers must have a licence from the government.

The apps which were dumped from the store obviously didn’t comply with these stricter rules, so Apple had no choice in the matter, Cook argued. As CNBC reports, he said: “We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business.”

Plenty more apps in the sea

Cook also pointed to the bigger picture, observing that there are still hundreds of VPN apps for iOS in the Chinese store, and many of them come from developers outside of China.

Even so, this is unlikely to wash with the banned VPN firms which include some major providers such as ExpressVPN and VyprVPN – indeed, these are our two top VPN picks for those visiting or living in China.

Earlier this week, ExpressVPN said it was “troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts”, and added that it “strongly condemns these measures, which threaten free speech and civil liberties”.

Recently, there have been a lot of rumours flying around concerning exactly how strongly China is going to clamp down on VPNs, with speculation of an outright ban emerging last month. However, the Chinese authorities did subsequently come forward to clarify that only ‘unapproved’ VPNs would be hit with the ban stick, presumably meaning those who haven’t obtained one of the aforementioned licences.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).