Skype has apparently joined the lengthening list of internet tools on China’s blacklist, disappearing from download stores with Apple saying Wednesday it was ordered by the government to remove certain apps.
Skype is no longer available for download from the Chinese Apple Store or popular Android sites, with Chinese web-users saying it had been gone for weeks.
“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 an emailed statement.
“These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”
The company did not specify which laws such apps were found to have violated.
China has tightened its already stringent online policing this year, including enacting new rules that require tech companies to store user data inside the country as well as imposing fresh restrictions on what is permissible content.
Chinese authorities appeared to severely disrupt the WhatsApp messaging app as they ratcheted up security ahead of a Communist Party congress in October that saw President Xi Jinping consolidate his hold on the country.
The moves have prompted speculation on the Chinese internet that authorities were moving against services with effective encryption, like WhatsApp and Skype, that make them less vulnerable to government monitoring.
The change does not seem to have affected use of previously downloaded versions of Skype, which appeared to work normally.
Also, Skype Business, a separate app tailored for corporate use, was still available for download in China.