Sci-tech

Amazon China partner tells users to stop using illegal VPNs

Amazon China partner tells users to stop using illegal VPNs

China has in recent months strengthened its massive internet censorship apparatus, which is often referred to as the Great Firewall.

In addition to blocking the likes of Google and Facebook, China's censors shape what is published online, pull content deemed politically sensitive and, according to a recent study, even intercept images sent via chat apps. "We were required by the government to remove some of the VPN apps from the app store that don't meet these new regulations".

The company has been heavily criticised for removing several VPN apps, and was accused of "aiding Chinese censorship efforts".

Apple confirmed Sunday that it had removed software enabling users to maneuver the Great Firewall of China. However, these apps can be found in other markets where the company operates.

He also disputed comparisons made by some critics between Apple's treatment of Chinese government requests and its refusal previous year to help USA authorities unlock the phone of one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. "We the operators also check routinely if any of our users use these softwares or store illegal content".

However Cook did emphasize that in this situation the law is on China's side, unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation iPhone unlocking saga a year ago where Cook reiterated that the law supported them.

Analysts believed that the government has been more insistent on demanding companies to make acknowledgements following the passage of the new cybersecurity law, and ahead of the Communist Party conclave later this year, at which most of China's top leader are expected to be replaced. Furthermore, the law will require search engines to remove references to blocked websites so citizens don't know what it is they are not allowed to see.

Yokubaitis added, "We view access to the Internet in China as a human rights issue, and I would expect Apple to value human rights over profits". "When it comes to their App Store, Apple is the judge, jury and executor, and now it appears the Chinese government is Apple's overlord". Software made by companies outside of China received messages from Apple over the weekend that their internet filters had been removed from China's mainland Apple App store.

It has also been at the receiving end of Chinese censorship, with its iBooks and iTunes Movie services shut down previous year. VPNs allow users to bypass China's so-called "Great Firewall" aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.

Apple is working with the Chinese data management firm Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry so it can still offer iCloud services to customers in the country.

Amazon was in the spotlight Wednesday after disclosures that its Chinese partner, Beijing Sinnet Technology, sent emails to clients advising them to delete tools used to circumvent censorship.