Yahoo has announced that it no longer allows its services to be accessible from mainland China “in recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment”, making it the second Western tech brand to leave the country in recent weeks.
This move became official from November 1, according to a statement published on its website, which directed users of Yahoo and AOL mail to other links. Local Chinese media reported Yahoo’s move on Tuesday.
“Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet. We thank our users for their support.”
Yahoo’s action comes after Microsoft Corp, who stopped LinkedIn in China last month, marking the retreat of the last major U.S.-owned social network in China. LinkedIn cited a “more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China”.
Yahoo started in China in 1998 and in 2012 struck a deal with Alibaba Group (9988.HK) to sell its stake in the e-commerce giant. The deal also saw Alibaba obtain the right to operate Yahoo China under the Yahoo brand for up to four years.
Yahoo China later shut its email service and web portal but the brand retained a global research and development center in Beijing until 2015, when it was shut down.
Beijing’s major moves to restrict internet companies freedom has had a huge impact on this departure. On Monday, its new Personal Information Protection law designed to protect online user data privacy came into effect.
In May, Verizon Communications sold Yahoo and its other media businesses to private equity firm Apollo Global for $5 billion.
The Chinese website of tech blog Engadget, which was also sold in the deal, was also unavailable on Tuesday and only displayed Yahoo’s announcement on no longer providing content for mainland China users.
“Fortnite” creator Epic Games also said it was shutting down its servers starting Nov. 15, after it stopped new user registrations on Monday.
In August, China introduced new rules that limit the amount of time under-18s can spend on video games to three hours a week, a move it said was necessary to combat gaming addiction.