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Asked about the recent removal of VPN apps from the Chinese App Store, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company had no choice under local laws, but expressed hope the crackdown won't be permanent.

"We're hopeful that over time the restrictions we are seeing (will be) loosened," Cook said on a conference call with analysts. "Innovation really requires freedom to communicate and collaborate."

Cook rebuffed the parallel that some have drawn to last year, when Apple refused an FBI request to turn over customer information. Cook said in that case US law was on Apple's side, whereas in the recent VPN case China's laws require companies that want to offer VPN apps to get a license from the government.

"Like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business," Cook said, adding that the company still voices its opinions in the appropriate way.

The rub: This is a case where Apple's tight grasp on the App Store puts it in a position to be able to remove any app it is ordered to, unlike Android, where apps can be downloaded from third-party app stores or directly "sideloaded" onto the device.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.

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