Apple removes Hong Kong police-tracking app, saying it could “endanger law enforcement and residents”

In October 2019, Apple rejected HKmap.live, a police tracking app in Hong Kong, but then reversed course to allow the app to appear on its App Store. A few days later, Apple pulled the app from its App Store, claiming that it found the app “has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong” after investigation.

Apple has been criticized for the move while the app developer said in a statement that “We disagree with Apple’s claim that our app endangered anyone”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO defended the decision, saying that they “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… we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.”

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Article
14 October 2019

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

Author: South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

“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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Article
10 October 2019

Hong Kong: Apple removes police-tracking app over safety concerns

Author: CNBC (US)

“Apple removes police-tracking app used in Hong Kong protests from its app store”, 9 Oct 2019

Apple… removed an app that protestors in Hong Kong have used to track police movements, saying 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.

Apple rejected the crowdsourcing app, HKmap.live, earlier… but then reversed course… allowing the app to appear on its App Store. The approval drew a sharply worded commentary criticizing Apple in… the People’s Daily.

Apple said in a statement that “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” contacted the company about the mapping app. 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.”

“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,” the statement said.

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…

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