App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple has removed a popular ad-blocker from the App Store in China.
  • 1Blocker was taken down because it is a VPN.
  • The developer says it will appeal the decision, as it has no VPN servers and doesn't route any data through servers at all.

Apple has removed 1Blocker from the App Store in China over claims the app is a VPN, and that the developer doesn't have a suitable license required to operate it.

1Blocker took to Twitter Tuesday stating:

Apple removed 1Blocker from the China App Store for being a "VPN app". We're going to appeal this.

We have no VPN servers. In fact, we don't route data traffic through any servers at all. Everything's done locally inside our network extension.

A notice attached to the tweet from App Store Review highlights section '5.4 VPN apps' in its subject and says that 1Blocker "will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China." Specifically, it notes the government requires VPN app developers to have a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to operate them, and that 1Blocker does not have this.

Apple says the only way to rectify this is to get a license and provide it to Apple. Only companies based in China can get the license, and Apple says without one the app will be made unavailable in the App Store. The app is still available everywhere else, but 1Blocker notes that China is its number two market for downloads.

Expressing further exasperation, 1Blocker says Apple has removed the Mac version of its app from the App Store even though it doesn't mention VPN anywhere "and doesn't even install a VPN profile." 1Blocker stated that Apple usually "gives a notice before removing an app from the store," but that "In our case, they just went straight ahead and removed it."