Apple continues to navigate tricky political waters as it faces criticism from multiple sides over its decision to remove the HKMap Live app from the App Store.
Now, U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook criticizing the company for censoring the app and asking the company to put “values above market access.”
Bloomberg reports a group of senators and representatives wrote the letter to Cook, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski.
“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKmaps is deeply concerning,” they wrote in a letter to Cook, urging Apple to “reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.” Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In a letter to employees on October 10, Cook told them the information provided by the app was being used to “maliciously” target officers and other folks not protected by the police:
It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign.
However, 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. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm.
In addition to the removal of the app in question from the App Store, the lawmakers told Cook say they’re also concerned over what they call Apple’s censorship of over 2,200 apps, including VPNs that aid Chinese citizens in avoiding censorship.