Apple has recently removed a tracking app from the App Store that monitors police movement in Hong Kong after receiving criticism from China’s state media.
The Chinese media accused Apple of aiding “rioters” by releasing a crowdsourced tracking app called HKmap.live, which reportedly pinpoints the location of police and anti-government protesters.
The app displays hot spots on a map of the city where users can frequently update reported incidents as they happen, according to The Guardian.
🐶in the picture is police 👮
They say they want freedom and democracy for themselves!!
but They attacked dissident Hong Kong citizens and beat up mandarin-speaking Chinese!!!!
I think it’s racist in disguise!!
This https://t.co/Mgsionxw7X app serious impact on law enforcement pic.twitter.com/Pd3lY22tVf
— Zoe佐伊 (@ZoeFor8) October 10, 2019
In its commentary article titled “Protecting rioters – Has Apple thought clearly about this?”, People’s Daily wrote, “Allowing the ‘poisonous’ app to flourish is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings.”
The state-run newspaper added that the app had allowed “Hong Kong rioters to openly commit crime while openly escaping arrests.”
It went on to accuse Apple of being an “accomplice” in the protest when it allowed HKmap.live to pass through its approval process as it “blatantly protects and endorses the rioters.”
The commentary went on to say Apple’s “mixing of political, commercial and illegal activities” is “unwise” and “imprudent” and would only “draw more turbulence” for the company.”
This @Apple statement justifying the removal of https://t.co/ET9Rmmh6us from its App Store is wrong in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to begin. 1) Could Apple please show us the evidence of how the app has been used ‘in ways that endanger law enforcement & residents’? pic.twitter.com/BXprxCWRM6
— Kong Tsung-gan / 江松澗 (@KongTsungGan) October 10, 2019
A day after the backlash, Apple officially announced they will pull HKmap.live from the App Store, citing how it violates guidelines and local laws.
“We have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app [HKmap.Live] 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,” Apple wrote in a statement. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”
8. We once believed the App rejection is simply a bureaucratic f up, but now it is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in #HongKong. It is disappointing to see US corps such as @Apple, @NBA, @Blizzard_Ent, @TiffanyAndCo act against #freedom
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 10, 2019
However, HKmap.live denied the claims on Twitter and stated that it never solicited or promoted criminal activities. Moderators also downvote content that appears to do so.
It went on to claim that this decision by Apple was “clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human rights in #Hong Kong.”
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