Apple Kowtows To China Again, Delivering Another Blow To Internet Freedom

Olive Hawkins
November 21, 2017

According to a report from the New York Times, the Skype iOS and Android apps have gone missing from the iOS App Store and popular third-party Android app stores in China. It's not clear how long Skype will remain blocked from these app stores, but a Microsoft spokesperson tells the NYT that Skype has been "temporarily removed" from Apple's App Store in China.

Customers buy the new iPhone X at an Apple Store in Hong Kong, China November 3, 2017.

Users reportedly complained on Chinese internet messaging boards after not being able to pay for Skype's ervices in late October.

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Microsoft's Skype may still be functioning in China, but it's becoming increasingly hard to find a way to download it in that country.

The move is said to have triggered significant complaints from users in China. However, the future of the service remains unclear. Apple's latest move to remove Skype from its China app store suggests that the company may be aiding a broader state crackdown on foreign communication services that can not be easily monitored.

Earlier this year, Apple pulled virtual private network apps for similar reasons. Other services like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter are all blocked by Chinese government filters. In mid-July, the company revealed that it is building a data center in China to adhere to the country's troublesome new cybersecurity laws, which some suggest could give China the ability to seize information on possible political dissidents and potentially pilfer foreign technology. Android users in China often use alternate app stores to download their apps as Google's services are restricted in the country.

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