Anger as Apple Pulls Anti-Firewall App in China

Anger as Apple Pulls Anti-Firewall App in China

Radio Netherlands reports that OpenDoor, a free VPN once available to users in China, was removed from the China app store in July:

Trying to jump the Great Firewall of China? There’s an app for that. At least there was, until Apple took it down. Apple removed OpenDoor, a censorship circumvention tool, from its app store last month with no explanation or notification. To one Chinese Internet expert, it signals that Apple has taken their willingness to self-censor to a “whole new level”.

“Pretty much the only tool that provides free Internet, free of charge, is now gone,” states Kevin Wang, a “greatly disappointed” Chinese high school student. He used OpenDoor to surf the web anonymously and stay in touch with American friends on Facebook. “I had recommended the app to almost all of my friends willing to stand against unfair censorship and control over the Internet,” he says.

OpenDoor is a browser app that reroutes its user’s traffic through its own servers to circumvent any blocks imposed by the user’s Internet Service Provider or the Great Firewall (GFW). Judging by its Facebook page, the tool is popular wherever the Internet is restricted: users from Iran to Pakistan sing its praises.

A large chunk of its users are Chinese. OpenDoor’s lead developer, who wishes to remain anonymous, states that the tool has been downloaded about 800,000 times, and that approximately a third of the downloads stem from China. [Source]

BBC translates comments from Chinese netizens on the now-unavailable app, and notes that this is not the first time Apple has pulled applications from their China store:

Chinese internet users were disappointed by the move by Apple.

One said: “It was so bad that this was taken away. I can’t now jump over the firewall.”

Another user wrote: “Apple is determined to have a share of the huge cake which is the Chinese internet market. Without strict self-censorship, it cannot enter the Chinese market.”

[…]OpenDoor is not the first app to have been removed from Apple’s App Store in China.

It has previously removed a news app by a US-based television broadcaster founded by the outlawed Falun Gong group.

Another app, which enables users to access books banned in China, was also withdrawn. [Source]

Read more on Apple in China or from CDT.



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