Skype has being fading out from the Chinese market since last October, but news about its banning came to light this week as the Apple Store in China retired the Microsoft application. The move caused alarm among some international observers both in the tech industry and in human rights organizations.
The removal of Skype follows the removal of Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and Gmail, as well as iBooks and iTunes Movies in the midst of a new cybersecurity law put in place since last June that enabled Beijing to block messaging apps without banning the services outright.
Authorities in Beijing did not make a statement about the removal of Skype or any other app, but Apple explained to The New York Times that the removal was made at the request of Chinese authorities. “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. Therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China,” a spokeswoman for Apple stated to The New York Times.
Skype is still operating in China for now as a company, but will be available in the Apple Store when the app complies with new regulations. The App Store is not the only market affected. Google Play has already removed the app with Android handsets manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi.
The new laws passed by the Beijing government require that foreign tech companies operate within the borders of sensitive consumer and user data stored on Chinese servers as well as meets some security checks if they want to move that information out of the country.
To date, Apple has made a $1 billion investment in the Guizhou province where they are building a facility to store data with the Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co. Ltd., in order to comply with the new cybersecurity rules in China.