Joining Apple, Amazon's China Cloud Service Bows to Censors

Amnesty International Law on VPN and anonymizers ban is crack-down on online freedom

Amnesty International Law on VPN and anonymizers ban is crack-down on online freedom

Russia's parliament gave the nod to the prohibition of the use of virtual private networks (VPN) which are often used for accessing web pages banned by the government.

The move is in line with recent directives from Beijing's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which issued orders at the beginning of the year requiring VPNs to seek licenses from the government before operating.

Among the pages which are no longer legally accessible by the citizens of Russian Federation who do not use VPN, are PokerStars, Bwin.Party and 888.

VPNs allow Chinese internet users to bypass the so-called "Great Firewall of China", circumventing the restrictions the country places on foreign websites, as well as hiding internet browsing activity from internet service providers.

"We're disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date", said ExpressVPN in a blog post.

In a statement on Sunday, an Apple spokeswoman confirmed it was in the process of removing apps from its China store that did not comply with Chinese law. "We believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree", Cook said in a telephone earnings call on Tuesday.

He said that Apple had no choice but to follow the stricter laws laid down by Chinese authorities, which require that everyone who operates a VPN must have government permission to do so.

While Apple's revenues grew double-digits compared to previous year in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, it saw a 10 percent decline in Greater China, which includes China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In a tweet, Star VPN posted that issue is a unsafe one that could cause other countries where the government takes charge of internet access to follow the same route.

State-run China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom were told to ensure that their 1.3 billion subscribers can't use VPNs to access blocked content, while popular VPN provider GreenVPN was shut down in early July.

Also in response to the new law, Apple said it planned to open a new data center in China and store user data there.

While Amazon and Microsoft both manage cloud services in China, homegrown rival companies such as Alibaba beat them in terms of size as the e-commerce giant has its own cloud services, which have developed at a fast pace in China.

Customers of Amazon, along with those of Apple Inc., are facing pressure in China to comply with the Chinese government's desire to further tighten the screws on its already heavily policed internet. The state doesn't really respect the idea of freedom on the internet, according to Freedom House, a nonprofit that researches human rights and ranks countries based on their appreciation of liberty. 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.

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