Apple has removed several widely used communications platforms from its app store in China at the request of the Chinese government.

The tech giant confirmed Friday that the Cyberspace Administration of China, a government censor and internet regulator, cited national security concerns in ordering the apps to be removed.

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” the company said in a statement.

Although Apple didn’t specify which apps it removed, analytics company Appfigures said WhatsApp, Threads, Signal and Telegram are no longer in the app store. Meta, which owns WhatsApp and Threads, referred a request for comment to Apple.

The popular apps can be used to exchange information and share documents on a massive scale, making them useful to political dissidents around the world.

Chinese consumers are limited by tight regulations concerning political expression, disallowing opposition to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. China’s government firewall already blocks access to the WhatsApp network, although users can access them through virtual private networks. Now, the apps simply won’t be available for download.

Apple’s action comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China over consumer technology. The U.S. Senate is considering a bill targeting the popular social media app TikTok, owned by a Chinese parent company, by forcing a sale or facing a ban.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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