China may be working to ban Skype, with the phone call and messaging service disappearing from a number of sites, including Apple’s App Store in the country.
“We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. “Therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China.”
The Microsoft-run Skype is one of the last foreign-run tools for online communication in China. Although it has not yet been outright banned, the New York Times notes that its, “removal from the app stores is the most recent example of a decades-long push by China’s government to control and monitor the flow of information online.”
While the app still functions in China at present, its lack of availability makes it inaccessible to new customers. Microsoft says it is, “working to reinstate the app as soon as possible.”
Previously, communication services including WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and others have run into problems in China, largely due to their strong encryption — which makes messages difficult for the government to monitor.
Apple’s statement mentions other messaging services, which fell afoul of regulations, although it’s not clear which apps this refers to.
The challenges of doing business in China
With the exception of the fact that China represents the biggest App Store market for Apple, this story doesn’t affect Apple directly.
However, it is just the latest of numerous incidents the company has had to navigate as it looks to grow its brand in China. In the past, Apple has been ordered to shut down the iBookstore and iTunes Movies in China, as well as been forced to accept the Chinese government’s demands that it run network safety evaluations on all Apple products before they can be imported into the country.
Recently, Apple fans in China were perturbed after buying the new Apple Watch Series 3 after its LTE connectivity, the chief feature of the new device, was reportedly blocked after brief availability with one carrier due to security concerns.
Source: New York Times