Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has angered many users in China by shutting down the app which enabled them to bypass the nation’s firewall, which blocks access to many popular websites.  The name of that app is OpenDoor, and its developers say Apple pulled it from its App Store in China.

Apple China

Developers were unaware of Apple’s decision

Posting on Time’s Techland blog, Sophie Brown reports that developers of the app didn’t even know Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had decided to pull it. They noticed that the number of users in China who were downloading the app dropped from a few thousand down to zero overnight. According to Apple, it requests that developers of apps like OpenDoor comply with the legal requirements in the locations where their apps are available for download.

However, the developers of OpenDoor disagree with the decision made by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). They said it’s unclear how a basic browser app would be able to have illegal contents in it because the user of the app decides which websites to view through the browser.

Did Apple cave into pressure from Chinese officials?

Some, like well-known citizen journalist Zhou Shunguang, have said that Apple has denied Chinese web users one of the tools they have been relying on to get around the strict restrictions placed on the Internet in their country. Others took to Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo to vent their frustrations. Some believe Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:APL) simply caved to pressure from Chinese officials, who undoubtedly would have wanted the app to be removed from the company’s App Store.

This wouldn’t be the first time the company has removed apps it said violated laws in China. The Falun Gong group, a news broadcaster in the U.S. which has been outlawed in China, developed a news app which was removed by Apple. Also the company removed an app which allowed Chinese users to read books that were banned in their country.