Wednesday 02 August 2017

Tim Cook on the VPN Issue in China

Tim Cook:

Now turning to China. Let me sort of comment on what I assumed is that the root of your question about this VPN kind of issue. Let me just address that head on: The central government in China, back in 2015, started tightening the regulations associated with VPN apps and we have a number of those on our store. Essentially as a requirement for someone to operate a VPN, they have to have a license from the government there. Earlier this year they began a renewed effort to enforce that policy, and we were required by the government to remove some of the VPN apps from the App Store that don’t meet these new regulations.

We understand that those same requirements are on other app stores. And as we check through, that is the case. Today there’s actually still hundreds of VPN apps on the App Store, including hundreds by developers that are outside of China. So there continues to be VPN apps available. We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business, and 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.

And so we believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree and in this particular case, now back to commenting on this one, we’re hopeful that over time the restrictions that we’re seeing are loosened, because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate. And I know that that is a major focus there. And so that’s sort of what we’re seeing from from that point of view.

So some folks have tried to link it to the U.S. situation last year and they’re very different. In the case of the U.S., the law in the U.S. supported us, I was very clear. In the case of China, the law is also very clear there, and like we would if the U.S. changed the law here, we have to abide by them in both cases. That doesn’t mean that we don’t state our point of view and in the appropriate way we always do that. And so hopefully that’s a little bit probably more than you wanted to know, but I wanted to tell you.