Apple Removes App Used By Hong Kong Protesters To Track Police Movements

Apple Becomes Latest U.S. Company To Cross China Over Hong Kong Protests

Apple Becomes Latest U.S. Company To Cross China Over Hong Kong Protests

It looks like Apple has kow-towed to Chinese censorship demands twice this week, taking an app off the App Store which lets Hong Kong protesters track police activity, and the app for USA publication Quartz.

The tech giant's pulling of HKmap.live was blasted as bowing to China and comes as high-profile brands, including the National Basketball Association and its Houston Rockets franchise, come under pressure from communist authorities over perceived support for democracy demonstrations in the financial hub.

The US tech giant came under fire from China over the app, with the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper calling the it "poisonous" and decrying what it said was Apple's complicity in helping the Hong Kong protesters. Apple removed the app after it received a request from the Hong Kong authorities.

According to a statement published by the makers of HongKongmap.live, Apple said "your app has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong".

The app, it said, "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".

Apple did not comment beyond its statement.

A browser version is still available online, as is an Android version of the app, which has been available for download in the Google Play store since 18 September.

Protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing for four months, with protesters initially fighting for the removal of the controversial extradition bill and then for broader democratic rights in the special administrative region. But the crisis has left her afraid of the police, making HK Maps "quite useful", she said.

Hong Kongers took to social media to protest the removal.

Previously the app developer has argued that the app actually allows Hong Kong citizens to be more law-abiding, as it marks when police have designated an area of "illegal assembly", therefore allowing people to avoid this area.

And a user on the Reddit-like forum LIHKG said: "The app actually tells people where not to go". The emoji was available on phones whose Apple account was based in other jurisdictions. The app "claims to provide transportation information for the convenience of the public", the paper said - but instead, it provides the location of local police in an effort to assist protesters.

"We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet", said Quartz CEO Zach Seward.

Greater China is Apple's third-largest region for sales after the United States and Europe, with the firm reporting $9.1 billion in sales during the three months to the end of June.

The tech company joins a long list of global brands that have fallen foul of China's increasingly nationalist consumer base, who brook no dissent from the official Communist Party line on issues ranging from Hong Kong to Taiwan to Xinjiang.

The NBA sports league found itself in hot water after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the Hong Kong protests.

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