Apple removed internet calling and messaging app Skype from its China App Store following pressure from the Chinese government.
The New York Times (NYT) reported Skype, owned by Microsoft, had been unavailable on Apple’s store and a number of other app download websites in China for nearly a month, though the service still works in the mainland.
The app was also removed from Android app stores in the country, BBC News reported.
In statement to NYT, Apple said: “We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China.”
Microsoft told BBC News the disappearance of the Skype app was temporary and the company hopes it will soon be restored.
In July Apple was forced to remove VPN applications from the App Store in China following new regulations to crack down on services which bypass the country’s massive firewall to access overseas sites.
The move, which drew sharp criticism from VPN service providers, came after the government passed laws in January banning all VPNs which are not approved by state regulators. Those with approval must use state network infrastructure.
China’s government stepped up its campaign of censorship ahead of the Communist Party congress in mid-October. In September it restricted access to WhatsApp’s full suite of services in the country.
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which was blocked in China in 2009. Facebook’s Instagram app, Twitter and Google search are also prohibited.