Tech giant Apple has reportedly blacklisted an app that allows people in Hong Kong to track protests and police activity in the city, claiming that distributing such information is illegal.
The Register reports that tech giant Apple has banned an app that allowed individuals in Hong Kong to track the location of protests and police activity in the city, stating that providing this information was illegal. Apple told the maker of the HKmap Live app: “Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement.”
"Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement."@Apple assume our user are lawbreakers and therefore evading law enforcement, which is clearly not the case.
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 1, 2019
The makers have argued that other apps have taken exception to these laws as they simply provide location data, if these rules were to be applied universally location-based apps such as Waze would also be banned. But, the app is used solely to track police activity and protest movements. The Register notes that as of 3:00 am Hong Kong time, messages on the app read: “After the tear gas was applied, the police officer immediately returned to the police station.” Another reads: “Four flashing lights parked at the police station door.”
The makers of the app complained that “Apple assume our users are lawbreakers and therefore evading law enforcement, which is clearly not the case.” Hong Kong protests have escalated recently and are now in their fifth month with neither side appear to back down. The Chinese government is attempting to crack down on unrest but is hesitant to intervene militarily out of fear that it could result in a situation similar to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
Protesters are angered by China’s growing influence over the province, beginning with a new bill that would make it easier to extradite people to China’s mainland from Hong Kong. When the legislature refused to withdraw the bill and used harsh police tactics to crack down on protesters, the situation escalated drastically. HKmap Live service is also available on the Web so it isn’t entirely reliant on the now-removed iPhone app and Apple users in Hong Kong will still be able to access the service for as long as it remains online.