[Update] Apple accused of blocking VPN updates in face of Myanmar unrest
What you need to know
- ProtonVPN says that Apple has rejected updates to its iOS app.
- It comes following a coup and unrest in Myanmar.
- ProtonVPN says that Apple is actively hampering the defense of human rights in the country.
Update, March 24 (10:00 pm ET): Apple has released a statement in response to ProtonVPN's allegations.
Update, March 24 (7:20am ET): Proton has stated the problematic wording in its app description has been present for "months".
One of the best VPN services available, ProtonVPN, says Apple is blocking updates to its app at a time when the people of Myanmar need it most.
ProtonVPN has stated that it has long been a defender of freedom and democracy, and that people in Myanmar "have been fighting to preserve their human rights after the military deposed the democratically-elected government and seized power on Feb. 1."
ProtonMail is one app recommended by the UN for use by Myanmar citizens who want to send the UN sensitive information, and apps like ProtonVPN are vital because national telecom companies have been forced to shut down the internet and social media in the country. Yet ProtonVPN says Apple is now rejecting vital updates to its app:
ProtonVPN says its app and others like it "are a lifeline to the rest of the world for the people of Myanmar who are being massacred" and that Apple is making it even more difficult for citizens of Myanmar "to send evidence of crimes against humanity to the United Nations." ProtonVPN further accused Apple of criticism by saying "Apple has no problem challenging governments when it is in its own financial self-interest (e.g., avoiding EU taxes or evading antitrust charges). However, when Proton does it for human rights reasons, it's suddenly against Apple's policies."
ProtonVPN says that Apple's actions "are actively hampering the defense of human rights in Myanmar", citing Apple's actions in Hong Kong and China as previous precedent.
You can read the full release here.
Update, March 24 (07:20am ET) — Proton says app description was in place for months.
Proton has reportedly told MacRumors the problematic wording singled out by Apple was reportedly in place for "months" before it was rejected:
Update, March 24 (10:0 pm ET) — Apple has released a statement in response to ProtonVPN's allegations.
Apple has released a statement to 9to5Mac saying that, while the company approved the latest version of ProtonVPN on March 19, the developer chose to delay its release by two days.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9