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Apple removes police-tracking app used in Hong Kong protests from its app store

19 Comments
By Stephen Nellis

Apple Inc on Wednesday removed an app that protestors in Hong Kong have used to track police movements from its app store, saying it violated rules because it was used to ambush police.

The U.S. tech giant had come under fire from China over the app, with the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper calling the app "poisonous" and decrying what it said was Apple's complicity in helping the Hong Kong protesters.

Apple rejected the crowdsourcing app, HKmap.live, earlier this month but then reversed course last week.

Apple said in a statement that it had began an immediate investigation after "many concerned customers in Hong Kong" contacted the company about the app and Apple found it had endangered law enforcement and residents.

"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," the statement said.

Apple did not comment beyond its statement, and the app's developer did not immediately have a comment on the removal. Hong Kong police had no immediate comment.

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. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

On Tuesday, the People's Daily said Apple did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth. Making the app available on Apple's Hong Kong App Store at this time was"opening the door" to violent protesters in the former British colony, the newspaper wrote.

Asked for comment after the People's Daily piece was published, HKmap.live's developer, who has not revealed his or her identity, said the app merely consolidated information that was available in the public domain, such as groups on Telegram, another service protestors were using to communicate.

"Protest is part of our freedom of speach (sic) and I don't think the application is illegal in HK," the developer told Reuters in a direct message on Tuesday.

Under Apple's rules and policies, apps that meet its standards to appear in the App Store have sometimes been removed after their release if they were found to facilitate illegal activity or threaten public safety.

In 2011, Apple modified its app store to remove apps that listed locations for drunken driving checkpoints not previously published by law enforcement officials.

Word of the HKmap.live app's removal spread quickly in Hong Kong.

"Does the entire world have to suck up to the garbage Communist Party?" one commentator called Yip Lou Jie said in an online forum, LIHKG, which is used by protestors in Hong Kong.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Apple is made in China, it's Chinese unless they fight back. They won't. Apple products are aiding and abetting the CCP

Your civil liberties are now under China

7 ( +8 / -1 )

...but of course. Caving to the dictators in Peking, same as Google with their censorship.

How ironic that so many of the NPCs who spout the slogans about orange man making trade war with China are writing their fake media talking points on gadgets made by slave labour in China by companies who brown-nose the dictatorship.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

"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," the statement said.

Fair and object statement, good job. No one is perfect, no apple is perfect, mistake can be corrected and should be corrected, that is all justice about.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Apple aids and abets Chinese Communist thugs!!!

Period. End of Story.

Because??

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

They are nothing more than whores!!!!!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

It's not an Apple app just one in the store.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's not an Apple app just one in the store.

That only makes it worse.

Apple is censoring content!!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Fair and object statement, good job. No one is perfect, no apple is perfect, mistake can be corrected and should be corrected, that is all justice about.

Justice ? They had their day in court ?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Police Lives Matter!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

“To protect and serve”

Decepticon version seems much closer

“To punish and enslave”

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Foul, butvto be expected from a corporation because they chase profits.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But Apple is so progressive and for the people and always chooses the customer over the government, they keep saying! I wonder if they also install backdoors for the Chinese government to see how the citizens use their phones and can get a copy of the data easily, something they insist would never happened in the States.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is the same app allowed in New York or London?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bad move Apple, first money over democracy..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bad move Apple, first money over democracy.

Tim Cook should be ashamed of himself!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The app wasn't designed to be a police tracking app. It was a map app allowing users to locate themselves on a map and sent it to other people.

The app is still available on the web and remains in Google Play.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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

This can be said about the HK Police.

Apps similar to this in the USA have been removed from app stores to prevent criminal organizations from targeting police. Waze had this feature, for example. From 2015:https://nypost.com/2015/01/28/cops-ask-google-to-remove-police-tracking-from-app/ https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/01/28/382013185/officers-ask-map-app-to-remove-police-tracking

Facts are sometimes inconvenient.

BTW, Google and Apple have a long history of censoring apps of all sorts. Usually both remove apps that are bad for their customers, but I think removing apps that help one person cause violence against another is a fairly clear moral duty at least from their general public app stores. Military does have a different app store, mostly for training materials.

Also, for slightly technical people, side-loading an app isn't THAT hard.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Another “woke” American company sells its soul to communism. Pathetic.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It is suppression of free-speech within your own Country, controlled by the CCP. Where will it end ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps with a "Dont vote for this guy/gal" as they are anti-CCP ? ... So if Large Corporations who provide funds for certain political campaigns are targeted by the CCP for their association with Politicians who are outspoken against the CCP, then ... what do you have ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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