back to article Apple removes VPN apps in China as Russia's Putin puts in the boot with VPN banlaw

Apple's Chinese app store has been suddenly shorn of privacy software as Russia and China are both clamping down on virtual private networks. Beijing seems to have had words with Apple about VPNs, because developers like ExpressVPN were suddenly told that their wares are “illegal in China” and breach the App Store guidelines. …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The future is almost here

    Prepare good citizens, prepare!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The future is almost here

      Roger that.

      I've got some Vaseline to ease the transition.

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: Vaseline

        How's that compare to Crisco?

        1. Oengus

          Re: Vaseline

          Not as tasty...

    2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: The future is almost here

      I guess the UK government will soon follow.. not that they have something else to do..

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: The future is almost here

      You mean using VPNs hidden within http & https with proxies & redirects?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The future is almost here

      The banning of VPNs is just one of many steps towards the ultimate goal - where every single user of the internet will need to authenticate, because of whatever reasons government can think of. Be it to reduce hate on the internet, for our 'safety', usual excuses.

      When I say authenticate, it could be through a national ID card, RFID chip implant, biometrics, etc. Baby steps are already being taken as we speak to ensure all government property (i.e., you), has some sort of government ID stamped on it.

      You see, government allow various problems to grow, they then await the screams of 'please do something' from the serfs, and they then come up with 'solutions' such as this. Why do you think hate speech is allowed to proliferate, including illegal material? It could quite easily be stopped.. but why do that when the problems help to support the agenda of government?

      Mark my words.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The future is almost here

        IOW, a Stateful Internet. I'm surprised they haven't taken that step yet.

      2. fredj

        Re: The future is almost here

        Ok I agree mostly but most hate speech in the UK is coming from dimwits with ba's in worldly and financial acumen accusing people who do know and understand what is going on.

  2. Dr Scrum Master

    Thorough

    All this to stop Chinese from watching Justin Bieber and Korean soap operas!

    1. Tim99 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Thorough

      ... and some people think that oppressive regimes are all bad.

  3. h4rm0ny

    It's oppression...

    ...when they do it. When our government does it though, it will be for our safety.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      " It's oppression...when they do it. When our government does it though, it will be for our safety."

      Funny, I think in Russia and China it's the other way round.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's oppression...

      Well, when our government does it at least it's not to keep themselves in power artificially. Politicians in a democracy are going to lose their jobs at some point anyway, mostly to their great relief. Come to think about it, the basic definition of a democracy is a system where the national leaders can leave their jobs and retire quietly.

      Politicians in a dictatorship use every trick in the book to keep their jobs as long as possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's oppression...

        Well, when our government does it at least it's not to keep themselves in power artificially

        LOL. How charmingly naïve.

  4. big_D Silver badge

    And businesses?

    How are businesses supposed to operate in this environment? The users in the field can only get the corporate data they need through a VPN connection to the HQ...

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: And businesses?

      What you'll find is that when this shit comes to the UK (and it will) that you'll need to have a license to use a VPN. That way firms can still use them unaffected while us normal Joe Soaps will be denied access to the technology.

      This will only come about via law firms and other companies (stock traders etc) that have the financial clout and embarrassing photographs of MPs to push through such a thing.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: And businesses?

      Then they must entrust the State with access to their data or they don't operate in the country, period. No unsanctioned encryption will soon be the rule with treason charges against those who try to get around it with things like steganography (which they'll sanitize to minimize).

  5. LDS Silver badge

    The danger of the "app stores"....

    .... you're no longer free to install what you like unless you find a way to hack your device.

    Yes, app stores are more "secure" - but what "secure" really mean in this context?

    Also, don't expect corporations fight for your rights when their own business is at stake. Apple knew it could challenge the DOJ and FBI without issues, but also knows it can't challenge the Chinese politburo without being kicked out of the country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The danger of the "app stores"....

      "Also, don't expect corporations fight for your rights when their own business is at stake"

      I'm not a fan of Apple by any stretch of the imagination, but in this instance I'm not sure how they can be blamed for this. You seem to be under a bit of a misconception. Just because something is your right in the country that you live in does not mean it is a right of a person living in another country.

      The difference between the DOJ/FBI case and the China case is in the former Apple refusing to comply was not breaking any law. Apple maybe a large powerful company, but even they can't disobey laws just because they don't morally agree with them.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The danger of the "app stores"....

        "Apple maybe a large powerful company, but even they can't disobey laws just because they don't morally agree with them."

        Uber.

        Although using Uber and morally in the same sentence might be a problem.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The danger of the "app stores"....

          Uber's trying to wade into legal gray areas. However, in doing so so boldly, they're going to make the courts and legislatures start turning those gray areas black-and-white.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The danger of the "app stores"....

        "but even they can't disobey laws just because they don't morally agree with them."

        No but they can pull out.

        Morals have a price.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The danger of the "app stores"....

          China has nearly two billion people. Morals have a price, and to a business, that price can be too high, especially when you have investors to please (remember, Apple is publicly traded).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The danger of the "app stores"....

      Apple knew it could challenge the DOJ and FBI without issues, but also knows it can't challenge the Chinese politburo without being kicked out of the country.

      Different legal aspects. If China bans VPNs, that is at that point the law, and as a normal business, Apple (et al, by the way) don't have any option but follow it. When DoJ and FBI demanded data, that was a process with legal recourse which Apple took. If that had played out all the way to the end and Apple was told to comply it would no longer have an option either - assuming that what was asked was technically possible.

  6. Ole Juul

    Timing

    They always increase censorship before the National Congress. Nevertheless, I note that comments from some Chinese people indicate that they are not really having a huge problem with VPN availability even at this time. This is probably more of a news opportunity for western news.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And how would this be enforced in the west?

    The genie is already well out of the bottle. Packet inspection?

    People aren't just going to stop using VPNs and/or encryption because their governments tell them to.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: And how would this be enforced in the west?

      They will if they risk being charged with terrorism or worse. As for packet inspection, if all unsanctioned encryption is banned, then they just have to inspect anything they can't parse or decrypt. Most Web content can then be sanitized to reduce the odds and rate of stego.

  8. Velv
    Big Brother

    Thank God I live in the UK where we don't have a government that interferes with the legal websites we as citizens are allowed to visit...

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Big Brother

      "Thank God I live in the UK where we don't have a government that interferes with the legal websites we as citizens are allowed to visit...Yet"

      There, FTFY!

      1. Gordon Pryra

        Fair amount of satire in @Velves post there I believe..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Thank God I live in the UK where we don't have a government that interf

        FTFTFY

  9. MJI Silver badge

    Think when you vote

    Do not vote for extremist parties.

    They keep trying though, but May seems to be suceeding unfortunately.

  10. Wolfclaw

    Did anybody see the little troll from UK Gov sitting in the corner making notes, soon be rolled out in good old blighty under the disguise of anti-terror laws. Funny how multiple countries clamping down on internet freedoms, just makes you think this NWO stuff may have legs ??

    1. fredj

      You can only start a war if you can persuade the people in two countries to fight the good fight. If they are always internetting each other and decide the respective leaders are the problem you will never get the good war started from either side.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    To authoritarians (of whatever stripe they call themselves) there is only one true enemy

    The people.

    Saying things (not necessarily about them) authoritarians cannot hear.

    Thinking things (not necessarily about them) authoritarians cannot know.

    Doing things (not necessarily against them) authoritarians cannot stop.

    If their behavior was not so draconian would it not be simply pathetic? The only real "terrorist" of such people is the one inside their own heads. As it was for Stalin, Putin and May.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great

    But does an SSH tunnel qualify as a VPN?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Great

      Probably. Just assume they're trying to wipe out all unsanctioned encryption wholesale. Once they do that, they'll be working on stego sanitizers next.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: How far will this go ???

      "So what is next, banning of such texts"

      In the U.K. It's been illegal for a couple of decades now to publish instructions on how to circumvent many of our computer misuse laws. Yes you read that right, it's illegal to inform people how not to break the law, if the objective was originally to break the law.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. James O'Shea

        Re: How far will this go ???

        Hmm... Aqua Marina... exactly how does Reichfurher May and company plan to do anything if I were to, oh, create a few PDFs or RTFs or EPUBs of books containing such instructions and email them to people in the UK? Or placing them on a FTP or even a web site? Or just parking them on a USB thub drive and putting it in my pocket as I stroll past Customs? Is she really going to scan all inbound email, troll every site everywhere on the Internet, scan every thumb drive in every pocket, suitcase, or whatever? Really? Because I can see a few ways to have a lot of fun with them while remaining completely within the law.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: How far will this go ???

          Why not give some examples, then? Because although you may be within the confines of SOME laws, you may find yourself running afoul of OTHER laws.

  14. Roj Blake
    Coat

    What's it like to live in a country wth no free speech?

    "Mustn't grumble"

    1. Gordon Pryra

      Re: What's it like to live in a country wth no free speech?

      How is this gem by @Roj Blake not +600?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Big Brother

      Re: What's it like to live in a country wth no free speech? ""Mustn't grumble""

      Citizen

      Your grumbles are important to us.

      They will make your sentencing much quicker.

      Regards

      Big Brother.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I mean, there are always ways to avoid these kind of restrictions. If you cant download app from app store, then maybe providers have possibility for you to download from web page. I think China is a pretty big market, that companies would be interested in helping them out. For example, found this blog post that makes a tutorial of how you could access stuff that you want to see: https://nordvpn.com/blog/vpn-for-china/

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