Apple removes ad tracking blocker from China App Store under false pretenses

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Apple has killed App1 Blocker, which blocks ad trackers in the China App Store, saying it is an unlicensed VPN – but it does not offer VPN services.

Tuesday morning, 1 blocker. Disclosure via Twitter Apple released the app from the App Store in China on Monday. Removing the app from both store fronts was for both iOS and Mac OS versions of the app.

An email sent by Apple and published by the app explains that the app contains “illegal content in China.” “As you know, the government is tightening the rules on VPN applications and from 2015, developers are required to obtain a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology,” Apple said.

Because the developers of the app “did not provide the correct license,” Apple has been removed until the correct license is provided. Emissions only affect the China App Store, not other countries.

The problem is that 1 Blocker is not a VPN app. This prevents ad trackers in Safari.

The developers insist that “we do not have any VPN servers. In fact, we do not route data traffic through any of the servers.” “Everything has been done locally within our network expansion.”

It would be advisable to appeal against the decision, 1 Blocker added, adding that the expulsion came with little warning. The firm says “usually gives notice before removing an app from the Apple Store. In our case, they go straight ahead and remove it.”

China has a track record in trying to take control of the App Store, including forcing Apple to remove VPN apps from the regional App Store in 2017. In December 2020, 46,000 apps were removed in one day for failing to meet China’s licensing requirements. Affects multiple app categories.

It is difficult to get a license in China, partly because you need to get one from a Chinese company, not from outside the country. Regulators have also been keen on issuing licenses, repeatedly suspending issuances of new game licenses for years.

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