Apple yanks Skype from the App Store following direction to do so from the Chinese government
China is popular for working tirelessly to crack down on any site that does not comply with the ‘national laws’. In fact, its rigid system of censorship has been nicknamed the Great Firewall of China. A few months ago, the use of VPNs was banned from the App Store, to tighten security. The most recent app to be added to the blacklist is Skype’s call and messaging services.
Apple disclosed the reason behind its removal via an email which doesn’t come as a surprise anyway- the government says the app doesn’t comply with their ‘national laws on security’. ‘We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) apps do not comply local law, therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China. These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business’. The emailed statement read.
However, Microsoft, the owner of Skype claims that the removal is only temporary and that the company is working to address any misunderstanding. A spokesman for Microsoft said:
‘The iOS version of Skype has been temporarily removed from the app store in China…we’re passionate about the benefit that Skype offers to our users around the world by facilitating communication and enabling collaboration.’
Although the Asian country did not specify which laws were flouted, China is deliberately doing everything within its power to control public opinion and eliminate any form of anti-government propaganda on the internet in the country. So far, Apple has removed 674 VPN apps as requested by the Chinese government.
Skype is just another threat to the government which is now seen as a secure way to discuss sensitive subjects away from the prying eyes of the countries state security. Others which have been previously blacklisted include Google, Facebook, and Twitter. WhatsApp may join the league pretty soon. With its message-encryption setting, it’s only logical for the country to place a ban.
However, Skype for Business, designed for an official purpose was still available for download on the China Apple Store.
This ban comes ahead of the fourth World Internet Conference which is set to take place in Eastern China. The government is, therefore, trying to tighten security by promoting its rigid views about web policy. This act has been criticised by rights activist and by foreign countries who wish to expand their business activities in China.
Media reports reveal that Skype’s disruption began in October before it was finally pulled down yesterday. The next app likely to join the long list is WhatsApp. If this is accomplished, the government will achieve its dream of total dominance.