App stores in China have removed the Skype call and messaging service, one of several apps to have been removed.
Apple has said that it has also been removed from the Apple app store in China. The government has given the reason that the app does not comply with local law.
Owners of Skype, Microsoft stated to the BBC that the app had been “temporarily removed” and they were “working to reinstate the app as soon as possible.”
The app is also no longer available for download on Android app stores in China.
Disruption to the Skype service started in October and Apple said in a statement “We have been notified by the Ministry of Pubic Security that a number of voice over internet protocol (VOIP) apps do not comply with local law. Therefore, these apps have been removed from the app store in China.”
A spokesperson from Microsoft said: “The iOS version of Skype has been temporarily removed from the app store in China… we’re passionate about the benefit that Skype offers to our users around the world by facilitating communication and enabling collaboration.”
The company did not comment on when its Skype app was first removed, or the situation with Android.
The BBC has reported that tests done by it staff in China found Skype was not available for download on Apple or Android app stores on Wednesday.
Microsoft has already been criticised for withdrawing products from its Chinese App Store.
There was disapproval from creators when the tech giant took down more than 60 virtual private networks(VPNS), which circumvent China’s internet firewall because it was “legally required to remove them” under Chinese regulations.
Apple also revealed that it had removed 674 VPN apps so far this year following a request by the Chinese government.
The Company said, in a letter to 2 US senators, it had been “ordered” to remove specific VPN apps even though it “questioned the legal basis of the request”.
Apple said it was told the VPN operators had violated Chinese cyber security laws.
Foreign companies who are trying to expand their user base in China are concerned. The cyber security laws in China are seen as part of efforts by the government t to eliminate any anti-government sentiment and to control public opinion on the internet.
There have been other foreign owned digital and internet platforms apart from Skype, including Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Twitter – which have become unavailable to Chinese users.
Skype, when downloaded from outside China’s firewall, has been seen as a semi-secure way of discussing sensitive topics away from the eyes and ears of China’s state security, according to correspondents.