Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the iPhone maker's decision last weekend to remove several virtual private network (VPN) services from the local App Store in China — a move that was slammed by multiple VPN service providers and observers online.
In Tuesday's earnings call, Cook reiterated that Apple removed the apps because they did not meet new regulations put in place by Beijing. He said the Chinese government began tightening rules associated with VPN apps back in 2015 and made a renewed effort earlier this year to enforce them. The new rules, Cook said, require service providers to have a license from the government in order to operate a VPN.
"We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business," Cook said. "We strongly believe participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there and in other countries as well."
He pointed out that there are still "hundreds of VPN apps on the App Store, including hundreds by developers outside China."