World News

Apple Removes Hong Kong App After Facing Criticism from Chinese Authorities

Apple Removes Hong Kong App After Facing Criticism from Chinese Authorities

Cook acknowledged that the app could be used for both good and ill, but their decision to side with the police against protestors on this occasion appears to be at odds with the company's image of being a force for fairness and freedom. "This case is no different", Cook wrote, according to Reuters, which reviewed the letter.

On Thursday morning, Apple chief executive Tim Cook dropped an email into the inboxes of his employees.

Hundreds of mask-wearing pro-democracy protesters yesterday marched through Hong Kong's central business district at lunchtime, occupying a main thoroughfare and disrupting traffic as the territory braced for another weekend of turmoil.

Apple's decision comes a day after the Chinese state-run People's Daily newspaper criticised Apple for allowing the application to be used on its mobile devices.

"National and worldwide debates will outlive us all, and, while important they do not govern the facts", said Cook in defense of Apple's decision. "We once believed the App rejection is simply a bureaucratic f [**k] up, but now it is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in #HongKong", the developer concluded.

That drew criticism from China and Hong Kong officials, which reportedly pushed Apple to reverse course yet again and remove HKmap.live from the App Store.

Google also removed a game from its Chinese Google Play store that allowed users to play as a Hong Kong protester.

The dynamic, crowd-sourced app HKmap.live has become popular for helping people to navigate through the tear gas-filled streets in Hong Kong, a former British colony where pro-democracy protests have erupted since June against Beijing's creeping interference. 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.

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Apple did not comment beyond its statement. In his letter, Mok goes into detail about how the HKmap.live app has been keeping nonpolitical residents out of the crossfire between demonstrators and police.

Charles Mok, a member of Hong Kong's legislative council, wrote to Cook saying he was "deeply disappointed with Apple's decision to ban the app, and would like to contest the claims made by Hong Kong police force".

We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user.

Maciej Cegłowski, a software developer and activist who has been reporting from Hong Kong over the summer, tweeted that the claim the app violated the law was similarly unfounded.

Hong Kong is also facing its first recession in a decade due to the protests, with tourism and retail hardest hit.

It's not just Apple removing apps from its storefront. CEO Zach Seward denounced "this kind of government censorship of the internet". The app's anonymous author says it's meant to help people in Hong Kong stay safe by avoiding potentially risky areas. The metro normally carries around 5 million people a day. The leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, is allegedly working in the interests of the Chinese government rather than her own people, and Hong Kongers have demanded that she step down. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

Pro-establishment and democratic lawmakers shouted at each other before the beginning of the session, underscoring the tension and divisions in the Asian financial hub after four months of often violent pro-democracy protests.

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


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