HONG KONG (AP) — Yahoo Inc. said Tuesday it has pulled out of China, citing an “increasingly challenging business and legal environment.”
Chinese authorities are strict about internet censorship. They require all companies operating in China that they censor any keywords or content they deem inappropriate.
“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” the company said in a statement.
It said it “remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet.”
The company’s withdrawal coincided with the implementation of China’s Personal Information Protection Law, which limits what information companies can gather and sets standards for how it must be stored.
Chinese laws also stipulate that companies operating in the country must hand over data if requested by authorities, making it difficult for Western firms to operate in China as they may also face pressure back home over giving in to China’s demands.
After it gave data about two Chinese dissidents back to Beijing in 2007, Yahoo was criticized by U.S. lawmakers and eventually resulted in their arrest.
Yahoo previously reduced its China operations and closed its Beijing office in 2015. Its withdrawal from the country is largely symbolic as at least some of Yahoo’s services, including its web portal, have already been blocked.
China also blocks most search engines and social media platforms internationally, including Google. Facebook GoogleThis is. These services can be accessed by users in China using virtual private networks (VPN) to bypass the block.
Yahoo used to operate a Chinese music and email service, which was also discontinued in 2010.
Yahoo has been the second largest U.S. tech company to cut its China operations over recent weeks. Last month, Microsoft’s professional networking platform LinkedIn said it would shutter its Chinese site, replacing it with a jobs board instead.
Verizon Communications Inc. bought Yahoo in 2017. AOL was merged with Verizon Communications Inc., and the entity was later sold to Apollo Global Management for $5B. Apollo had announced its completion of the Yahoo acquisition in September.