Apple has had a bad relationship with some iOS developers due to its arbitrary decisions about what to post and when, and it is now being accused of putting profits ahead of human rights in Myanmar by the founder of ProtonMail and ProtonVPN.
Proton, the company behind ProtonVPN and ProtonMail, has criticized Apple for blocking updates to its VPN service.
And theWrote (Andy Yen) Proton founder, says Apple has blocked an important security update for ProtonVPN’s privacy protection program just because Apple didn’t like the app’s description.
Whether it’s challenging governments, educating the public, or training journalists, the app description says, we have a long history of helping bring freedom online to more people around the world.
Apple told Proton that it is not acceptable to encourage users to bypass geographic or content restrictions.
VPNs have become an important tool for protesters in Myanmar to avoid a massive internet crackdown during the country’s ongoing bloody military coup.
One researcher told Bloomberg that VPN use has increased by 7200 percent since early last month, when the government banned Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Yen expressed concern about the reasons given by the App Store Review Team, which has focused on the potential for using a VPN to challenge the authority of governments.
In an email to Proton, Apple asked the company to ensure that the app was not presented in a way that would encourage users to bypass geographic or content restrictions.
According to Proton, these requirements jeopardize its ability to help those most in need of the service.
As a result of the ban, ProtonVPN iOS users will no longer receive updates designed to protect against account hijacking attempts that may put privacy at risk.
The requirements, if Proton chooses to adhere to, are also supposed to limit app discovery by anyone looking to bypass internet censorship.
VPN services like ProtonVPN provide a way for people who live under censorship systems to access news, connect with each other, and document events.
However, according to Proton, it is precisely these traits that Apple has objected to, and by blocking ProtonVPN updates, it suggests, Apple actively impedes the defense of human rights.
Yen wrote: Proton has always been an advocate for freedom and democracy around the world, and we feel that every company has a responsibility to protect basic human rights wherever they are threatened, but by blocking ProtonVPN’s security updates, Apple has demonstrated that it does not share this philosophy.
The Proton founder also accused Apple of hypocrisy, stating that it is willing to challenge governments’ authority when it is in their own financial interest.
As examples, he cited Apple’s avoiding EU taxes and evading antitrust fees.