Microsoft’s Skype has become increasingly difficult to download in China, although it still seems to function in the country. As Tuesday’s New York Times report states, Skype became unavailable on Apple’s Chinese App store as well as on Android App stores, and this is going on for about a month now.
Apple said that they have been “notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of Voice Over Internet Protocol apps do not comply with local law,” and thusly have removed the apps from the Chinese store.
As for Android, local big brands like Xiaomi and Huawei are not carrying Skype anymore, and neither does Google run its Play Store in China due to the local laws. Instead, Android users hinge on to third-party services for downloading apps.
Microsoft stated that the removal of Skype from Apple’s Store is temporary and it had been working on the revival process as soon as possible.
It is still unclear which law Skype has offended. There are thoughts on this, though, like Chinese authorities don’t like Skype’s message encryptions during transits between devices and the app’s servers. Also, Skype maybe is unable to cope up with a new Chinese law that demands the use of verified real names online.
Furthermore, China recently became restrictive in terms of online speech because of the much-hyped Communist Party meeting of the last month. In fact, the disappearance of Skype had likely happened right after the event.
Apple had been a victim of criticism by digital rights activists earlier in 2017 when it removed apps from the Chinese App Store. These particular apps could be used to evade state censorship in China.
Having said and done, we wish that Skype returns to the users in the country and that legal issues are solved soon. Microsoft is losing out on the Chinese market in terms of Skype, and the users in the populous and advancing countries being kept out of using the app are the two scenarios that may significantly affect tomorrow’s progress in the tech industry.