Tech giant Apple has once again decided to remove the app used by Hong Kong protestors to track police activity from the iPhone app store following criticism from communist China.
The Verge reports that Apple has once again blacklisted the HKmap.live app that tracked police presence and protest activity in Hong Kong from its app store. The company has flip-flopped repeatedly on whether the app should be allowed in the store, initially telling developers: “Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement,” and banning the app.
Following outcry over the initial banning, the app was reinstated to Apple’s store. Now, following criticism from the Chinese Communist Party’s main newspaper, The People’s Daily, which stated that the app “facilitates illegal behavior,” leading it to question if Apple was “guiding Hong Kong thugs,” The Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe have once against bowed to the wishes of communist China.
Apple has once again banned the app saying in a 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.
HKmap developers said in response to Apple’s statement:
There is 0 evidence to support CSTCB’s accusation. HKmap App never solicits, promotes, or encourages criminal activity. HKmap App consolidates information from user and public sources, e.g. live news stream, Facebook and Telegram.
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 10, 2019
Apple has not clarified which “local laws” the HKmap.live app violates. Apple also removed the app of news outlet Quartz from its Chinese app store this week, the news outlet has been providing strong coverage of the Hong Kong protests.