Published: Sat, October 12, 2019

Apple draws criticisms for deleting app one day after China rebuke

Apple draws criticisms for deleting app one day after China rebuke

Apple CEO Tim Cook has spent much of the past year walking a thin line, trying to prod a truce between the US and China while also trying to protect his company's interests. "This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store", the company said.

The move drew criticism, however, for coming a day after the Communist Party-run People's Daily newspaper excoriated Apple for being "an accomplice to the rioters".

"National and global debates will outlive us all, and, while important they do not govern the facts", said Cook in defense of Apple's decision. "In this case, we thoroughly reviewed [the facts], and we believe this decision best protects our users".

"Over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present", Cook wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Apple initially said it was going to block the app but instead made it available for users to download on October 5, the South China Morning Post reported.

If Apple reinstates HKmap.live to the App Store it could anger the Chinese government, and maybe even the country's population, which seems capable of an organized revolt against western business entities-like the National Basketball Association, for example.

"Providing a gateway for "toxic apps" is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people", the paper said, confirming that Hkmap.live opened the door to violent protests.

"We disagree [with] Apple and Hong Kong police force's claim that HKmap App endangers law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong", the app said on Twitter.

Apple did not comment beyond its statement.

HKmap.live is a web mapping service based on crowdsourcing, and was recently taken down from the App Store by Apple.


Responding to a request for details about the scheduled meeting, Ms Lam's office said in an email: "The Chief Executive did not meet with the said USA senator".

The app that caused Apple such a headache was called HKmap.Live, which offered real-time updates of where Hong Kong police units were stationed.

In a tweet, the developer said the app doesn't "solicit, promote, or encourage criminal activity". Thursday's removal of the app drew immediate reprimands from Washington.

Hong Kong is also facing its first recession in a decade due to the protests, with tourism and retail hardest hit.

"We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet, and have great coverage of how to get around such bans around the world", Quartz Chief Executive Zach Seward told The Verge in a statement. The app's anonymous author says it's meant to help people in Hong Kong stay safe by avoiding potentially unsafe areas. "This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law".

The app, which has been used by activists and others in Hong Kong during the ongoing protests, uses crowd-sourcing data to allow users to report police locations, use of tear gas and other details that are added to a regularly updated map. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

The unrest started more than four months ago in what began as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill but has since widened into a pro-democracy movement amid fears that China is encroaching on Hong Kong's freedoms.

"And the last thing they want to do is something that is going to upset the apple cart".

"It sounds like they are being responsible".

Some lawmakers wore black masks as they sat in the chamber, while others carried placards reading: "Police brutality still exists, how can we have a meeting?"

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