Skype, Microsoft’s internet phone call and messaging service, has become unavailable on sites where apps are downloaded in China.
According to a New York Times report on Tuesday, Skype has been unavailable on Apple’s Chinese App Store and on various Android app repositories for almost a month now.
“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,” an Apple spokeswoman said Tuesday in an emailed statement responding to questions about Skype’s disappearance from the app store. “These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”
The Times‘ investigation says the move may indicate a crackdown by President Xi Jinping’s administration on privacy, encrypted communication, and “internet freedoms.”
A new cybersecurity law the government instituted in June, which includes language that justifies widespread removal of non-compliant apps, may be politically motivated to cut off access once and for all to foreign news outlets and social networks.
Skype was one of the last remaining online foreign chat tools allowed in China. Although it has yet to be wiped entirely from the country, its removal from several of the most popular App stores make it the latest victim of the Chinese government’s attempts to control the flow of information online.
Skype is the latest addition to the list of internet platforms, including Alphabet Inc’s Google services, Facebook, and Twitter, which have all become inaccessible to Chinese users.