back to article Apple chief on Chinese VPN app ban: We always toe the line with other nations' laws

Apple boss Tim Cook has said that his company would "rather not" remove apps from its store – but has to comply with the law in China. His comments come after it was revealed that Apple has removed a number of the virtual private network apps that allow users to circumvent the Great Firewall from its Chinese store. Cook was …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We always toe the line with other nations' laws"

    Except where taxes are concerned, obviously ...

    1. Gavin Chester

      But they do comply

      Tax law is complex, and everyone (both corporates and individual people) will look to minimise the tax they pay.

      Some of the MPs who were highly vocal over the tax of Apple / Facebook/ Amazon etc, were also themselves using some of the same rules to benefit form Offshore accounts. On a much smaller remember how IR35 was introduced to stop the self employed doing tax avoidance, the point is we all would try to pay less tax if we could.

      Yes big corporates can afford to set up complex systems that minimise tax, but they do so by cleverly staying inside the law. It may not be in the spirit of the law, but it will be to the letter of the law.

      And I fully expect downvotes ,,,

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Or consumer protection or, or, or...

  2. Teiwaz

    "We always toe the line with other nations' laws"

    Yes, it's so much more difficult to bend or ignore the law when you either don't have a cop or a politician in your pocket or you're not sure your bought and paid for authority will return the favour.

    It's all very Cosa Nostra really.

    They know full well they can do what they like as the Western Governments will moan and complain and bleat, but be unable to act due to public opinion concerns or unwilling due to generous donations...

    Meanwhile China will just kick them in the wallet where it hurts.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: "We always toe the line with other nations' laws"

      "Governments will moan and complain and bleat, but be unable to act due to public opinion concerns"

      Is that not the idea behind democracy?

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: "We always toe the line with other nations' laws"

        "Governments will moan and complain and bleat, but be unable to act due to public opinion concerns"

        Is that not the idea behind democracy?

        Is it the idea behind , or the result of?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would like to be the first to applaud Apples sensible stance in supporting an oppressive regime rather than standing it's ground and losing some money.

    Bravo Apple, Bravo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All they did was remove SOME VPN apps. The ones that complied with Chinese law remain, and nothing was said about disabling the built in VPN capability in iOS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Please elaborate on "complying with Chinese law" where doing so does not interfere with the privacy or freedom of the Chinese people.

        They don't need to disable the built in VPN on iOS as it's probably been slammed so hard by the NSA that China laughs at it.

        Apple are so ethical with really cool adverts so I trust them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I don't know Chinese law, but obviously VPN services that comply with the law will compromise the privacy and freedom of the Chinese people in some way. If you are going to suggest that Apple should refuse to cooperate, even to the point of having China ban all their products from sale in China, then where's your suggestion that ALL western companies should cease doing any business with China?

          Treat them like South Africa was, divest completely, economically isolate them, and see if that makes them loosen the reigns or clamp down even harder to avoid unrest when their economy is sent into a massive depression as a result? Or is Apple alone required to take a stand by you, and everyone else is off the hook and business as usual? Don't be naive, the idea that once China gets richer their government will loosen control has been proven wrong, so if we really care about their citizens we should cut all economic ties with China and try applying pressure the apartheid way.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Kind of surprised to see the upvotes, and no one bringing up the fact that if we actually did this a massive worldwide recession would result that would make 2008/2009 look like a blip.

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Funny legal compliance

    In the UK they don't comply with the most basic rules.

    Get an iPhone through a mobile company and try and send it back within warranty period.

    They won't take it because Apple insist that you go direct through them. They then try to claim that you have to promise to pay them something stupid like £120 if there's no fault with the phone - and they'll take that off your card at their discretion. Then they ship you replacements and collect yours.

    That's totally illegal. Your contract is with your vendor - in this case the mobile phone company. And it's them that are legally responsible for returns.

    1. Timmy B

      Re: Funny legal compliance

      "Get an iPhone through a mobile company and try and send it back within warranty period."

      Must only be phones or that company was lying to you. I took a duff iPad back to PCWorld and they swapped it there and then. And that's PCWorld - they aren't exactly renowned for great customer service. This was a couple of years back, mind.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny legal compliance

      I don't live in the UK so I don't know the laws or whether what you say is true or not, but why do you assume it is Apple acting illegally? Maybe your carrier didn't want to deal with it so they lied and told you to go through Apple? It isn't as though carriers have a reputation for great customer service...

    3. ilovecookiez

      Re: Funny legal compliance

      Why would you even want to do warranty with your carrier instead of going through Apple? Carriers are worse when it comes to warranties, can confirm as I used to issue warranties on AT&T.

      1. David Nash

        Re: Funny legal compliance

        "Why would you even want to do warranty with your carrier instead of going through Apple? Carriers are worse when it comes to warranties, can confirm as I used to issue warranties on AT&T."

        The point is, if you buy something, eg. an iPhone, from a shop, eg. a mobile phone shop, then your contract is with that retailer and not with anyone else, even if that someone else was the original supplier of the goods.

    4. David Nash

      Re: Funny legal compliance

      "That's totally illegal. Your contract is with your vendor"

      Why did @I ain't Spartacus get downvotes for this statement of fact?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "no backdoors will be created into any of our systems"

    Totally believable. Especially from a man who's gonna let Guizhou Big Data Cloud Industries handle all their iCloud bits in the country.

  6. walatam

    Translation

    When Tim Cook says "We strongly believe that participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there and in other countries as well" he must think we are all daft. Apple took a pragmatic decision to remove VPN's in China because failure to do so would have affected their bottom line - China may have taken more destructive action if Apple did not comply.

    I do not know which is more deplorable - China's repressive regime or Apple's "only doing it for the customer" bullsh*t. I suppose China is slightly more open about being a sh*t.

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Pirate

    Good reason to use Android

    My Nexus 5 has VPN built in. Even if I went for a 3rd party one, I could download ones from outside of Google Play and pass to to others. How are the Chinese gov't dealing with this then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not all VPN apps have been removed

      The iPhone has VPN built in as well. Note that it is only some VPN apps that have been removed. China's law requires VPN operators have a license from the government, they are not all banned. Cook said "a number of VPN apps that apparently follow regulations are still available in the App Store in China", but the Reg didn't bother to mention that in their misleading article.

      No idea what requirements there are - presumably that they have to do something that lets China censor content.

      I read elsewhere that China is going to block all VPNs in their firewall, and only let the approved ones through. So before long you might be able to install whatever VPN app on your Android, but it won't work unless it has been blessed by the government.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good reason to use Android

      A good friend lives in China and only today tried to communicate with me. In the end he gave up and I had a text later to say that 'once again' the vpn wasn't working. I don't know which one he uses but he tells me that it's becoming more hit and miss as to whether he can get a connection.

      1. DropBear
        Joke

        Re: Good reason to use Android

        Time to try desperate means - Morse and a laser pointer at the retro-reflectors on the Moon perhaps...?

  8. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
    Trollface

    What other applications will disappear?

    If all the applications available in a country must be used according to the country's laws, when will Apple remove the ones that allow users to commit crimes?

    A little list to start:

    - any map (you can use it to plan a burglary)

    - SMS and phone (same thing)

    - an calculator or spreadsheet (it can be used later to divide the results of the above burglary)

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