After removing Vkontakte and other related Russian-origin social network apps due to new UK sanctions on Russia, Apple appears to have changed its mind. So, after three weeks of absence, “Russian Facebook”, Mail.ru and other “related” apps are back on the iPhone app store, with Apple offering no elaborate explanation for their removal or reinstatement.
Apple has reinstated Vkontakte to the App Store
At the time the apps disappeared, Apple representatives said that “these apps are distributed by developers majority owned or majority controlled by one or more UK government sanctioned entities”. However, no names of companies or individuals who would be sanctioned that would result in these apps being blocked from Apple phones were provided.
Now, however, the apps have reappeared on the App Store, and Apple hasn’t offered much explanation. Benjamin Ismail, director of the Apple Censorship Project reacted to the situation for The Guardian:
“The only thing we’re sure of is that, once again, Apple is implementing App Store policies with total opacity, believing it will not be held accountable for its actions. While we are glad to see these apps restored, as some activists and members of civil society organizations were still using them when they were removed, we condemn Apple for its unpredictable and non-transparent way of administering the App Store”
Users of Vkontakte and other Russian apps that were no longer available on iPhones could still use them on their devices if they already had them installed. What they couldn’t do, however, was reinstall them, update them, and transfer them to a new device if they switched to a different iPhone.