Tim Cook says Apple followed Chinese law in removing VPN apps from App Store

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in General Discussion
Responding to criticism surrounding Apple's recent removal of VPN apps from the Chinese iOS App Store, CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday said the company was simply following new government regulations, as it would for any country in which it operates.




Speaking to investment analysts in an earnings conference call, Cook said the Chinese government began clamping down on virtual private network apps and related services in 2015. The laws essentially require VPN operators to obtain a license, Cook said.

Renewed efforts to enforce existing policy prompted scrutiny and the ultimate removal of certain apps in the App Store. Though Cook did not elaborate on the matter, it can be assumed a bulk of the culled apps were marketed by developers who lacked proper licensing.

Apple took an unknown number of VPN apps down from the App Store over the weekend.

"We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business," Cook said. "And we strongly believe that participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there and in other countries as well. So we believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree."

He added that hundreds of VPN apps are still available to Chinese users, including those developed and marketed by app makers residing outside of China.

Apple has in the past been an outspoken proponent of free speech and the company is notoriously protective over threats to the App Store, an integral part of the iOS experience.

"In this particular case, commenting on this one, we're hopeful that over time the restrictions we're seeing are loosened, because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate, and I know that that is a major focus there," he said.

Cook maintains that Apple conducts itself according to local laws, getting ahead of speculation that the company is kowtowing to the Asian country. As for arguments that Apple did the opposite in fighting U.S. law enforcement agency requests to access an iPhone linked to last year's San Bernardino terror attack, Cook said the situation was "very different."

"The law in the U.S. supported us, it was very clear. In the case of China, the law is also very clear there," Cook said. "Like we would if the U.S. changed the law here, we have to abide by them in both cases. That doesn't mean we don't state our point of view in the appropriate way, we always do that."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    SpamSandwichtallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 21
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    Other companies have done the same. Only Apple makes headlines. 
    Solijony0StrangeDaysjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,822member
    So much for security, now I’m certain Apple is selling out to the NSA
    SpamSandwichtallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    It's intact because Apple followed the law. That's why just today they removed an entire App Store category from Australia and why other App Store categories and apps aren't allowed in certain countries. Removing VPN services apps in China hurts their iPhone sales in that country.
    edited August 2017 jony0anantksundaramviclauyycmike54StrangeDaysrandominternetpersonjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,116member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    What the fuck does following the laws of a country have to do with "politics" and "strong views". So Tim Cook is now not allowed to have opinions or views on anything because some VPN apps were removed from the Chinese appstore? Fan-fucking-tastic logic there. Love how cut and dry everything is in your little world. You're so desperate to call Tim a hypocrite (because he doesn't share your rightwing, nutjob views) , that you jump for joy at the mere possibility of hypocrisy, when none exists.

    So much for security, now I’m certain Apple is selling out to the NSA
    You can be as certain as you want to be, that doesn't make it true. So any iPhone not using a VPN has no security? 99.99% of people don't use one and have no need. Doesn't mean their devices are less secure. There's not a shred of evidence that Apple is "selling out" to the NSA. Not a shred. And if they were, and word got out, it would be a PR disaster of epic proportions, especially considering Apple's stance on encryption. What would motivate them to do so? 

    I swear some of you are so hyperbolic, and make such facile, irrational arguments, that I have no idea if you're even serious or not. 
    edited August 2017 jony0viclauyycmike54hzcleavingthebiggStrangeDaysrob53watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    So much for security, now I’m certain Apple is selling out to the NSA
    Amazon also had to sell out in order to do business in China. Amazon had to change some of its cloud server policies to suit the Chinese government requests. I'm willing to bet when Putin decides to kill VPNs in Russia, Google Play will likely also remove VPN apps in that country. Only a company run by an idiot would stop doing business over an app. If that was the case, there wouldn't be very many multi-national companies if they all decided to stop doing business over some small issue. If I had a business and invested all my money into it, I'd damn sure bow to the request in order to keep my business going. It's not like anyone is being murdered or abused. It's just a few apps. If the Chinese want VPNs they'd better just get a VPN service. There were Chinese citizens who said it wasn't that big of a deal since most of them do not use VPNs. If I lived in a country where my government requested that I not use a VPN, I surely would honor that request.
    Solimike54watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21

    Only reason Mr Cook, has given in is because China as a market has far greater profit implications than the loss of a few apps from the app store. I wonder though how he will make the decision on what Gov't regulations he should or shouldn't follow, As an example, the Australian Gov't's current legislation which permits requests  to access encrypted data, or what happens if the Australian Consumer Commission decides to allow banks access to iphone internal systems and software to set up their own payment systems. Will he agree to this, or would he simply pull the services and products from the countries he disagrees with should their market not be sufficiently large enough to worry apple should it be lost?


  • Reply 8 of 21
    LordeHawkLordeHawk Posts: 103member
    For those that have an uneducated opinion...

    China making unlicensed VPN apps illegal, is not the same as forcing Apple to build a decryption back door.  I know this might be very difficult to understand but there're plenty of VPN apps available in China.  For all you conspiracy idiots out there, Apple caving to the NSA without a Cold War style stand off is just plain stupid.  Please go wrap your house in foil and unplug your phones, just don't breed.

    A market exodus provides no partnerships or influence for the future.  If the Chinesese wanted a free internet they would demand it, or move out.  We must not be so egocentric as to push our beliefs on every government or culture.  So many children and trolls on the internet these days.

    That being said, Merica!


    Soliviclauyycmike54watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 340member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    If Apple is a Chinese company, do you want Apple to follow American laws?

    Yes,  Chicom is pure evil, there is no question about it. But Apple is not a nonprofit, they have to do business. 
    In your opinion, Apple must move all their factory to  Murcia. Then everyone need to buy their iPhone/MacBook/Mac Pro with extra 30%. 
    mike54StrangeDayscharlesatlas
  • Reply 10 of 21

    How can people be so dense? Apple is following the law where it operates.

    If some people cannot see the difference between complying with the law and objecting to invasion of privacy based on the whims of some organisation, they are even more blind than the fanboys they claim us to be.

    mike54SpamSandwichStrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    Exactly where they've always been. Have you seen him break the law in the US due to his politics and strong opinions?


    singularitybeowulfschmidtStrangeDays
  • Reply 12 of 21
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,481member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    To use your logic Apple should have allow porn apps and such even though the US and other countries do not allow distribution of porn which minors may have access to. At the end of the day ever company in the world has to follow local laws if you want to do business in that country. 
  • Reply 13 of 21
    Rayz2016 said:
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    Exactly where they've always been. Have you seen him break the law in the US due to his politics and strong opinions?



    Exactly.  In China, there is no recourse to following the law now.  They might be able to use the courts to eventually overturn or modify the law (however unlikely that seems to me), but they don't have the option of not complying with it.

    In the U.S., it's entirely legal to challenge what one considers an unjust or illegal law, and quite common to request, and receive, a temporary reprieve from enforcement.  In China, not so much.

    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 21
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,743member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    In some cases other countries are held to different standards in terms of "freedom" and "democracy." This is normal. Some of these countries have made great strides but still operate within a particular cultural and sociopolitical framework. It will be a very, very long time before China will have a Constitution or Charter of Rights and Freedoms, respectively. 

    To wait until that undefined time to do business with these countries is insane. Almost quite literally insane. Especially when they are *already* manufacturing goods for the world, which, in fact, actually helps them travel the road to greater rights and freedoms for their population. This is how countries "open up" - through international trade and cooperation. 

    So the "free world" has to pick its battles. As does Tim Cook. It's not just about giving China a pass because business is business, but rather, acknowledging that expectations must be realistic. Tim Cook knows this and fights his battles (those "politics and strong views") where society and government *are capable of living up to them* - that is, where the deed can and should reflect the creed. 
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 15 of 21
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,857member
    What is best for the future of China is that their people continue to be exposed to the benefits of open trade and travel. Their people are no longer ignorant of the world beyond their borders. They do travel and they are regularly exposed to other societies, and many of them end up leaving China for extended periods on business or for school. Those ideas come back with them. Little things will change there gradually, until suddenly everything changes.
    quadra 610
  • Reply 16 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,121member
    gtr said:
    Where are your politics and strong views now, Tim?
    Don't be daft. Apple is based in the US, a free democracy (republic) where we have the right to influence policy. That is not the case in communist China. Duh.

    https://daringfireball.net/2017/07/apple_china_vpn_apps
    quadra 610
  • Reply 17 of 21
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    LordeHawk said:
    For those that have an uneducated opinion...

    China making unlicensed VPN apps illegal, is not the same as forcing Apple to build a decryption back door.  I know this might be very difficult to understand but there're plenty of VPN apps available in China.  For all you conspiracy idiots out there, Apple caving to the NSA without a Cold War style stand off is just plain stupid.  Please go wrap your house in foil and unplug your phones, just don't breed.

    A market exodus provides no partnerships or influence for the future.  If the Chinesese wanted a free internet they would demand it, or move out.  We must not be so egocentric as to push our beliefs on every government or culture.  So many children and trolls on the internet these days.

    That being said, Merica!


    I would think Apple doesn't allow unlicensed VPN apps on the US App Store either. VPN apps use licensed encryption algorithms with restrictions on where they can be used and sold. China is simply requiring the same thing. They only want apps using encryption that have been approved for use in China. People need to actually read the use conditions that come with every app instead of clicking OK. 
  • Reply 18 of 21
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,041member
    I think laws like this really are pretty dumb. The only thing this really does is kill some sales of the iPhone! Anyone who wants to use a VPN will just get a cheap Android phone and sideload VPN software onto it. How is China going to stop that?

    You see Google Pulled out of China and what has that gotten them? NOTHING! Has it changed anything? No!!! Other then the fact that Forked versions of Android phones are everywhere. Virus infested App stores are all over China. Google has ZERO control of anything. China has their own popular search engine, Baidu is #1, followed by Sogou and in 3rd QiHoo 360.

    When you pull out, you have no voice at all.

    edited August 2017 SoliSpamSandwich
  • Reply 19 of 21
    jbdragon said:
    I think laws like this really are pretty dumb. The only thing this really does is kill some sales of the iPhone! Anyone who wants to use a VPN will just get a cheap Android phone and sideload VPN software onto it. How is China going to stop that?
    You keep writing this as if it's true. How is China going to stop VPNs? Read:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-10/china-is-said-to-order-carriers-to-bar-personal-vpns-by-february
  • Reply 20 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    jbdragon said:
    I think laws like this really are pretty dumb. The only thing this really does is kill some sales of the iPhone! Anyone who wants to use a VPN will just get a cheap Android phone and sideload VPN software onto it. How is China going to stop that?
    You keep writing this as if it's true. How is China going to stop VPNs? Read:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-10/china-is-said-to-order-carriers-to-bar-personal-vpns-by-february
    He clearly stated they can't because you can always side load them on Android.

    As he stated, all this does is hurt iDevice sales in China because the on VPN service apps allowed on the Chinese App Store will be approved by the Chinese gov't., and not everyone will want to go through the extra hurdles of buying iOS apps from a different country's App Store.
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