Companies say Apple removed their privacy apps from China

A second law also signed by Putin on July 29 - and published July 30 - will require operators of instant messaging services, such as messenger apps, to establish the identity of those using the services by their phone numbers.

Apple's Chinese app store suddenly shorn of privacy software Russian Federation and China are both clamping down on virtual private networks.

Apple has removed virtual private network (VPN) apps, software which allowed users in China access to an unfiltered internet, from its App Store. ExpressVPN posted a letter from Apple on its blog stating that its app "includes content that is illegal in China".

VPN providers say that while the apps are not available on the store, users are still able to manually install them using VPN support built into Apple's operating system.

Apple's largest market outside of the U.S.is China, and it appears that the company is willing to compromise with Beijing in order to protect its business interests.

The bottom line? If you do want to use a VPN on an Apple device, make sure you've installed it before you travel.

Another company, Star VPN, tweeted that its apps were also removed from the China App Store.

Apple is in the middle of a localisation drive in China, and named a new managing director for the region - a new role - this month.

This move follows China's lead in also banning VPN services, as well as cracking down on live-streaming services, which happened this past summer, as reported by Tech Crunch. Odds are, the company has already been spooked by previous entanglements with authorities when their iTunes and iBooks services have been the subject of a regulatory crackdown which resulted in five consecutive quarters of losses.

For China, the update is the country's latest hard move with internet censorship. It added, "If Apple views accessibility as a human right, we would hope Apple will likewise recognize internet access as a human right (the United Nations has even ruled it as such) and would choose human rights over profits". The government has to give out the licenses, and Apple was just removing the apps that were not in compliance with the new rules and regulations. At the start of the year, the app for The New York Times was pulled due to the strain of relations with the government following critical headlines.

Vanessa Coleman

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