China orders Skype withdrawal from Apple's app store, other platforms

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Beijing, Nov 23: Popular communications application Skype and other similar calling apps are no longer available on US tech giant Apple's app store in China and other platforms due to an order by the government.

"We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) apps do not comply with local law therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China," Apple said in a statement sent to Efe news.

"These apps remain available in all other markets," according to the statement by Apple China, which said that many such programs do not register users on the basis of their official identity cards, as demanded by the Chinese government.

Skype owner Microsoft told the BBC the app had been "temporarily removed" and the company was "working to reinstate the app as soon as possible". The app is also no longer available for download on Android app stores in China.

Meanwhile, a Microsoft spokesperson said: "The iOS version of Skype has been temporarily removed from the app store in China... we're passionate about the benefit that Skype offers to our users around the world by facilitating communication and enabling collaboration."

The company declined to comment on when its Skype app was first removed, or the situation with Android, the BBC reported.

Other smartphone app stores, including those of Chinese companies, Xiaomi and Huawei, have also stopped offering Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol apps.

The measure is another blow by the Cyberspace Administration of China to the operation of foreign companies, particularly Internet companies in the country, where Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are all blocked.

The more than 700 million internet users in China fear that the Internet censorship campaign by the Chinese authorities may also affect VPN programs, used to access censored content in the country.