Thursday, 21 November, 2019

Apple pulls HKmap.live from app store

China's state media said the app'obviously helps rioters China's state media said the app'obviously helps rioters
Emmett Howard | 10 October, 2019, 15:46

Apple reportedly told the developer "we have verified with the Hong Kong cybersecurity and technology crime bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimise residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement", according to an excerpt shared on HKmap.live's Telegram channel.

Following the suit of other companies taking sides in ongoing tensions in China's autonomous city, Apple allowed HKmap.live to appear in its app store.

For people in Hong Kong angry over tactics used by the police to break up anti-government protests, the HKmap.live app was a handy little tool.

The company said the app, HKmap.live, had "been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents".

As it stands, HKmap.live's web version is still accessible on the iPhone.

In their announcement on Thursday, Apple did not refer to Chinese comments but said that the app had been removed because it violated local law and Apple guidelines.

The company said Apple's decision was "clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human rights in #Hong Kong".

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The Reuters news agency said that the app continued to work for users who had previously downloaded it in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, users of HK Maps said the application helped them steer clear of police patrols whose riot-control methods and policing during the crisis have been widely decried as heavy-handed, undermining public support for what long was considered one of Asia's best police forces. The tech firm said in their statement that they immediately began an investigation after "many concerned customers in Hong Kong" contacted them, concerned the app was aiding and abetting violence.

The app does not "solicit, promote, or encourage criminal activity", they added. The app was rejected once during review for facilitating and encouraging illegal activity. The app "claims to provide transportation information for the convenience of the public", the paper said - but instead, it provides the location of local police in an effort to assist protesters.

The approval drew a sharply worded commentary on Wednesday in the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, accusing Apple of being complicit with the protesters who have staged more than four months of anti-government demonstrations, some of which have been violent. Tencent, a Chinese media partner with the National Basketball Association in China, also ended a streaming deal worth $1.5 billion and China's state television said it would stop airing Rockets games.

China accounts for around a sixth of Apple's overall sales, and is the company's third largest market after the USA and Europe.

The NBA sports league found itself in hot water after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the Hong Kong protests. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. "This recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple", it said.

The mainland is Apple's second-biggest market after the United States but CEO Tim Cook says it eventually will become No. 1.

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