Apple pulls Hong Kong app used by protesters after China warning

Marco Green
October 10, 2019

The maker of the iPhone has removed an app that allowed rioters in Hong Kong track where police are located after reports that it was used to ambush officers and vandalize communities where law enforcement was not present.

Apple said it immediately began investigating the app's use and found it "has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong".

Apple's decision to approve the app had provoked strong condemnation from the Chinese state media, with People's Daily - a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece - claiming that "allowing the "poisonous" app to flourish is a betrayal of the Chinese people's feelings".

Apple did not comment beyond its statement, and the app's developer did not immediately have a comment on the removal.

Apple has pulled an app that tracked the movements of Hong Kong police through crowdsourced data, becoming the latest company this week to bow to Chinese pressure.

The company told Reuters it made the decision after consulting with local authorities and that the "app violated its rules because it was used to ambush police and by criminals who used it to victimize residents in areas with no law enforcement".

On Twitter, HKmap.Live said it never solicits or promotes criminal activity and its moderators vote down content that appeared to do that.

American gaming company Blizzard Entertainment has also faced backlash and a possible boycott after it banned a player for making public comments supporting the Hong Kong protests during a tournament.

HKmap.live published the App Store Review's statement on its Telegram channel, which has more than 70,000 subscribers.

Apple had sales of $9.61bn last quarter in its Greater China category, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong. There is also a version on Google Play.

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

Apple is the fourth American company to come under fire this week for alleged involvement in the Hong Kong protests, which have entered their fifth month.

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.

HKmap.live is not the only app to get removed from the App Store.

"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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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