Apple has removed an app from their Hong Kong App Store that protestors there had been using to track the movements of police. The company says it did so because the app violates its guidelines and local laws. Apple approved the “HKmap Live” app last week after initially rejecting the app from the App Store.
Apple’s latest move follows Wednesday’s criticism by the Chinese state media for its decision to approve the app and offer it in the App Store. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the People’s Daily.
After Apple removed the app from the store, it issued the following statement:
We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. The app displays police locations and 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 victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store .
The Hong Kong demonstrations began in March in response to an unsigned legal bill that threatened to allow extradition to mainland China. The protests have expanded to demand that the city state retains its broader democratic rights.
The developers of the HKmap Live posted a series of tweets to express their dismay at Apple’s claims the app endangered police and residents in Hong Kong, arguing “there is zero evidence to support CSTCB’s [the Hong Kong Police Force’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau] accusation that HKmap App has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.”
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 10, 2019
In addition to the removal of the HKmap Live app, Apple also removed the Quartz news app from China’s App Store. The Verge reports the news organization says Apple removed the app after complaints from the Chinese government. Apple told Quartz that the app “includes content that is illegal in China.”
(Screenshot via MacRumors)