Apple has removed the mobile apps of 25 VPN services from its App Store, following a request by Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, Interfax reported on Thursday.

Reuters says demand for VPN services soared in Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in 2022 and the authorities restricted access to some Western social media.

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has already blocked access to some large VPNs, but others remained available. This latest move will likely be regarded as Apple again capitulating to Russian government demands.

For example, in 2021 the tech giant added Russia to the list of places where the announced iCloud Private Relay won’t be offered. iCloud Private Relay is a service that lets you connect to virtually any network and browse with Safari in an even more secure and private way. Apple says it ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted and uses two separate internet relays so no one can use your IP address, location, and browsing activity to create a detailed profile about you.

According to Apple, “regulatory reasons” prevent the company from launching iCloud Private Relay in China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and the Philippines. A.

What’s more, as noted by Reuters, Apple and Google removed Russia’s “Smart Voting” election app from the App Store and Google Play in 2021, in what an opposition spokesperson calls “political censorship.” Russia had demanded that the companies remove the tactical voting app and threatened fines.

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