Apple says it was ordered it to remove WhatsApp and Threads from China App Store

Apple users in China won’t be able to find and download WhatsApp and Threads from the App Store anymore, according to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The company said it pulled the apps from the store to comply with orders it received from Cyberspace Administration, China’s internet regulator, “based on [its] national security concerns.” It explained to the publications that it’s “obligated to follow the laws in the countries where [it operates], even when [it disagrees].”

The Great Firewall of China blocks a lot of non-domestic apps and technologies in the country, prompting locals to use VPN if they want to access any of them. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are two of those applications, but WhatsApp and Threads have been available for download until now. The Chinese regulator’s order comes shortly before the Senate is set to vote on a bill that could lead to a TikTok ban in the US. Cyberspace Administration’s reasoning — that the apps are a national security concern — even echoes American lawmakers’ argument for blocking TikTok in the country.

In the current version of the bill, ByteDance will have a year to divest TikTok, or else the short form video-sharing platform will be banned from app stores. The House is expected to pass the bill, which is part of a package that also includes aid to Ukraine and Israel. President Joe Biden previously said that he supports the package and will immediately sign the bills into law.

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