Apple drops Hong Kong tracking app following Chinese criticism

Galtero Lara
Octubre 10, 2019

Apple said in a statement that "many concerned customers in Hong Kong" contacted the company about the mapping app. Apple said it immediately began investigating the app's use and found it "has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong".

The maker of the iPhone has removed an app that allowed rioters in Hong Kong track where police are located after reports that it was used to ambush officers and vandalize communities where law enforcement was not present.

It's worth pointing out that apps like Google-owned Waze, which offer similar functionality by allowing users avoid police checkpoints, continue to be available on the App Store elsewhere - implying that Apple is clearly setting a double standard when it comes to app approvals.

When it later appeared on the App Store, there was a sharply-worded response in official Chinese media.

Apple says the crowdsourcing app, HKmap.live, violated its rules because it was used by protesters to ambush police, and by criminals who used it to victimise residents in areas with no law enforcement.

The app was removed from Apple's app store globally but continued to work for users who had previously downloaded it in Hong Kong, Reuters found.

The app's developers, however, rejected Apple's move and said there was, "0 evidence to support CSTCB's accusation that HKmap App has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety".

More news: Mundo: Protestas en Ecuador reducen en 31% producción de petróleo

People's Daily Online, the state-run newspaper of the Communist Party, blasted Apple for providing access to the app, HKmap.live, in its App Store.

The People's Daily had previously said Apple did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth.

In the past apps that have met the requirements to appear in Apple's App Store have sometimes been removed because they have been found to facilitate illegal activity or threaten public safety. News publication Quartz had its mobile app pulled yesterday for serving "content that is illegal in China", referencing its ongoing coverage of the pro-democracy protests raging in Hong Kong. The Houston Rockets is one of the most popular NBA teams in China as it is the former team of Chinese basketball giant Yao Ming.

Jeweller Tiffany & Co scrapped an advert image after some Chinese consumers suggested it was supportive of the protesters.

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

The manufacturing of Apple products directly and indirectly accounts for around three million jobs in China.

China is yet to intervene directly in the protests, but this week Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam refused to rule out the possibility of Chinese military intervention.

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