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Apple CEO Tim Cook defends decision to remove Hong Kong mapping app in memo to staff

Author: South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Published on: 14 October 2019

“Apple CEO Tim Cook defends decision to remove Hong Kong maps app in memo to staff:”, 11 Oct 2019

Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company’s decision to remove a mapping app in Hong Kong…

Apple pulled HKmap.live from its App Store… after flip-flopping between rejecting it and approving it earlier… Apple made the decision after consulting with local authorities, because it could endanger law enforcement and city residents. Cook echoed that sentiment in an email to Apple employees.

“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 victimise individuals and property where no police are present,” Cook wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. He also said the app violates local laws.

The company has been criticised for the move, and Cook addressed that. “These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate,” the CEO wrote. “National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.”…

Google… confirmed… that the HKmap.live app is still available in the Play app store in Hong Kong. However, the internet giant removed a mobile game from the store for “attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies.” The game let players pretend to be Hong Kong protesters.

Charles Mok, a legislative counsellor in Hong Kong, said he was “deeply disappointed” by Apple’s move and contested the company’s reasons in an open letter to Cook.

“There are numerous cases of innocent passers-by in the neighbourhood injured by the Hong Kong Police Force’s excessive force in crowd dispersal operations,” Mok wrote in the letter, which he posted on Twitter. “Information shared using HKmap.live in fact helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any criminal activities might be subjected to police brutality.”…

 “We disagree with Apple’s claim that our app endangered anyone” in Hong Kong, the developer said in a statement…

[Also referred to National Basketball Association, Activision Blizzard]

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