Apple Responds to Proton’s Incendiary Statements Following an Update ‘Block’

Apple has responded to statements by Proton VPN following an update “block,” clarifying that the virtual private network app has remained available.

In a blog post filled with a passionate defense of human rights and internet privacy, Andy Yen, the CEO of secure internet provider ProtonVPN, blasted Apple for blocking its latest update and accused the tech juggernaut of helping the global spread of authoritarianism by “giving in to tyrants.”

Now, Apple has provided a timeline of events (via MacRumors) regarding the matter as well as a statement saying that all Proton apps are available and have remained available for download in Myanmar, rejecting Proton’s narrative:

  • March 18 – Apple holds up app update, requests a change to the wording in ProtonVPN app’s description
  • March 19 – Update approved by Apple following requested change in wording
  • March 21 – Proton releases update to users on the ‌App Store‌
  • March 23 – Proton publishes blog post, correlating update rejection to political situation in Myanmar

“Apple says it approved ProtonVPN’s latest ‌App Store‌ update on March 19 and says, correctly, that Proton published the update to users two days later, on March 21. ProtonVPN, another two days later, published a blog post correlating the rejection to Apple limiting free speech and human rights in Myanmar,” explains MacRumors.

Apple also responded to Proton’s claims, and it seems like Proton has made more of this than what it actually was including choosing to delay the approved update by two days:

All apps made by Proton, including ProtonVPN, have remained available for download in Myanmar. We approved the most recent version of ProtonVPN on March 19. Following this approval, Proton chose to time the release of their update, making it available on March 21st, while subsequently publishing their blog post on March 23rd.

Proton then shared a response to Apple’s statement:

Apple has systematically blocked updates that outline that ProtonVPN can be used to overcome internet blocks used by regimes engaging in human rights abuses. We were forced to censor our app description to get approval from Apple to update our app. We believe that Apple’s policy of rejecting apps which are “challenging governments” is simply wrong. It is telling that Apple’s response does not address this policy at all.

Guideline 5.4 of Apple’s developer rules lays out regulations for VPN apps, prohibiting apps that “violate local laws.” At present, it isn’t clear specifically what Proton said to induce the rejection.