Apple responds to ProtonVPN app update refusal complaints with timeline

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 25
Apple has responded to incendiary statements by Proton VPN following an update "block," clarifying that the virtual private network app has remained available, and that the VPN provider is omitting some key details about the incident.

Credit: ProtonMail
Credit: ProtonMail


The fracas between Proton and Apple started after the virtual private network provider said in a blog post that Apple took issue with a phrase in its iOS app description. The addition appears to pointing out the call from the United Nations for people in Myanmar to use Proton-based apps during a military coup and internet shutdown.

the United Nations advised people in Myanmar to use secure messaging apps like ProtonMail and Signal to document and share information about "crimes against humanity" in the country. Proton says that, in addition to ProtonMail, the people of Myanmar are also using ProtonVPN to bypass internet crackdowns.

In an email to ProtonVPN, Apple says that the excerpt highlighting the UN statement violates guideline 5.4. It goes on to say that the developer needs to resolve the issue by ensuring the "app is not presented in such a way that it encourages users to bypass geo-restrictions or content limitations."

But, Apple's latest quote given to AppleInsider and other venues on Wednesday night sheds a little more light on the timeline of releases.

"All apps made by Proton, including ProtonVPN, have remained available for download in Myanmar," Apple made clear. "We approved the most recent version of ProtonVPN on March 19."

"Following this approval, Proton chose to time the release of their update, making it available on March 21st, while subsequently publishing their blog post on March 23rd," Apple added.

It isn't clear if the update that Proton is speaking of consists of code or fixes beyond including the statement from the UN.

"Apple has systematically blocked updates that outline that ProtonVPN can be used to overcome internet blocks used by regimes engaging in human rights abuses. We were forced to censor our app description to get approval from Apple to update our app," Proton said to AppleInsider in a statement on Thursday morning. "We believe that Apple's policy of rejecting apps which are 'challenging governments' is simply wrong. It is telling that Apple's response does not address this policy at all"

Apple guidelines and VPNs

Guideline 5.4 of Apple's developer rules lays out regulations for VPN apps. It prohibits apps that "violate local laws." At present, it isn't clear specifically what Proton said to induce the rejection.

This isn't the first time that Apple has cracked down on VPN apps. In 2017, the company pulled VPN apps from the Chinese App Store amid pressure from the government. Although that move proved controversial, Apple executives said that the company was acting in accordance with local laws.

ProtonMail, which makes the ProtonVPN apps, has been a critic of Apple's App Store policies in the past. The app creators are also part of the Coalition for App Fairness, which rallies developers against certain App Store policies.

Update March 25, 9:05 PM ET Updated with Proton's statement about Apple's response.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,113member
    Marketing by proton
    stompyjony0wookie01watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,745member
    EDIT:  Changed my post, since I misread a pretty important part of the article  :s

    Sounds like Proton's blog post may have been a bit hysterical then, if the update did get approved.  Though I still think Apple's complaint that they broke guidelines was very questionable.
    edited March 25 jony0
  • Reply 3 of 11
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    There is a strong pattern to this handful of developers:
    - part of the app “fairness”’coalition
    - posts factually incorrect, sorry lets call it what it is, posts lies in an attempt to create a false narrative about apple and the app store
    - have all run counter to basic rules in the store and dug in their heels over such issues

    Its time to start flagging these tools whenever they speak up, much in the way Gruber flags every Bloomberg post.  Why? because they have a credibility problem. 
    edited March 25 williamlondonjony0dewmewookie01StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,727member
    There is a strong pattern to this handful of developers:
    - part of the app “fairness”’coalition
    - posts factually incorrect, sorry lets call it what it is, posts lies in an attempt to create a false narrative about apple and the app store
    - have all run counter to basic rules in the store and dug in their heels over such issues

    Its time to start flagging these tools whenever they speak up, much in the way Gruber flags every Bloomberg post.  Why? because they have a credibility problem. 
    Tools, yes that's exactly what they are. I know that after this latest marketing ploy by Proton, I simply don't trust them. I'm so glad I use a different VPN and mail provider. I would recommend anyone that IS using Proton products to move to something else. Any company that would try to use the horror going on in Myanmar as an advertising tool like this is simply not to be trusted. 
    Wgkruegeruraharajony0dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 582member
    There is a strong pattern to this handful of developers:
    - part of the app “fairness”’coalition
    - posts factually incorrect, sorry lets call it what it is, posts lies in an attempt to create a false narrative about apple and the app store
    - have all run counter to basic rules in the store and dug in their heels over such issues

    Its time to start flagging these tools whenever they speak up, much in the way Gruber flags every Bloomberg post.  Why? because they have a credibility problem. 
    I think your first point is very important and shouldn't be taken lightly.  Trying to make Apple look bad is clearly part of this group's strategy, and they will try to create every opportunity to do this.
    edited March 25 jony0dewmewookie01StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    uraharaurahara Posts: 585member
    DAalseth said:
    There is a strong pattern to this handful of developers:
    - part of the app “fairness”’coalition
    - posts factually incorrect, sorry lets call it what it is, posts lies in an attempt to create a false narrative about apple and the app store
    - have all run counter to basic rules in the store and dug in their heels over such issues

    Its time to start flagging these tools whenever they speak up, much in the way Gruber flags every Bloomberg post.  Why? because they have a credibility problem. 
    Tools, yes that's exactly what they are. I know that after this latest marketing ploy by Proton, I simply don't trust them. I'm so glad I use a different VPN and mail provider. I would recommend anyone that IS using Proton products to move to something else. Any company that would try to use the horror going on in Myanmar as an advertising tool like this is simply not to be trusted. 
    Yes. It’s discussing what some companies and people  do to get more publicity. 
    I hope people will be more aware about the choices they are doing. And don’t trust the first thing said. Critical thinking - this is what we all need!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    If being available in Myanmar was so critical to Proton, why would they push an update at that time? Also, if the update was critical, then why not explain it? This looks like a cheap way to gain attention at the expense of Apple. Not that Apple behaves perfectly all the time with everybody, but in this instance it just looks like Proton created a storm out of a glass of water to get competitive attention.
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,756member
    Ah yes, omission is the deceiver’s greatest tool.
    jony0wookie01watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    If an app is advertised able to overcome regional restrictions, it is just asking for a government to approach Apple to take the app down.  This policy actually protects developers, but these guys would rather complain about it.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,822member
    igorsky said:
    There is a strong pattern to this handful of developers:
    - part of the app “fairness”’coalition
    - posts factually incorrect, sorry lets call it what it is, posts lies in an attempt to create a false narrative about apple and the app store
    - have all run counter to basic rules in the store and dug in their heels over such issues

    Its time to start flagging these tools whenever they speak up, much in the way Gruber flags every Bloomberg post.  Why? because they have a credibility problem. 
    I think your first point is very important and shouldn't be taken lightly.  Trying to make Apple look bad is clearly part of this group's strategy, and they will try to create every opportunity to do this.

    Exactly. This kind of behavior is becoming a sport. It's not surprising that Apple Stores and their managers have a certain amount of discretion to replace or repair out-of-warranty products at no cost when the customer is especially easy to deal with and ... nice. It's actually NOT a crime to treat strangers, colleagues, partners, service people, and people who are trying to help you with dignity and respect. Burning down bridges before you cross them is never a good idea.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    All the BS from the app developer aside, it is very interesting that quoting a UN statement on human rights in your app description can get your app update blocked. However always remember that it is Apple's App Store and they can make any rules they want. App developers know this so whining about it does not help. Instead ask your government to force Apple and other cell phone operating system providers to allow the installation of third party app stores if a user wishes to do that and agrees to take the risk. Empowering individual people is what started the entire personal computer revolution in the 1980s. It is what made Apple Computers so popular. Let's never lose sight of that.
Sign In or Register to comment.