Wednesday, 16 October, 2019

Hong Kong's metro, legislature open but more protests planned for weekend

In flip-flop, Apple bans app used by Hong Kong protestors Apple pulls police-tracking app used by Hong Kong protesters but developer says there's no evidence
Deanna Wagner | 12 October, 2019, 21:00

Perhaps the strongest voice in opposition to Cook's reasoning comes from Hong Kong's IT Legislator, Charles Mok, who posted an open letter to Cook on Twitter on Thursday.

Cook acknowledged that the app could be used for both good and ill, but their decision to side with the police against protestors on this occasion appears to be at odds with the company's image of being a force for fairness and freedom.

Long-time Apple commentator John Gruber wrote of Mr Cook's email: "I can't recall an Apple memo or statement that crumbles so quickly under scrutiny".

Apple CEO Tim Cook has spent much of the past year walking a thin line, trying to prod a truce between the US and China while also trying to protect his company's interests. "This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law".

"This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store", it added. Apple withdrew the product under pressure from several sources, including the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

"National and worldwide debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts", Cook wrote in his letter. "In this case, we thoroughly reviewed [the facts], and we believe this decision best protects our users".

Apple had initially rejected the app in early October, claiming it "allowed users to evade law enforcement", according to Ars Technica.

The dynamic, crowd-sourced app HKmap.live has become popular for helping people to navigate through the tear gas-filled streets in Hong Kong, a former British colony where pro-democracy protests have erupted since June against Beijing's creeping interference.

But it is not clear that Hong Kong authorities asked Apple to remove the app.

"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 [and] threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement", Apple said in its statement.

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Apple has been in the news throughout the week after the company was criticized by a Chinese government news outlet for distributing an app called HKmap.live in its App Store.

Responding to a request for details about the scheduled meeting, Ms Lam's office said in an email: "The Chief Executive did not meet with the said USA senator".

You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live.

We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user.

It stressed that moderators deleted comments that encouraged criminal activity. Thursday's removal of the app drew immediate reprimands from Washington.

The company cut off mainland access to the news website Quartz, which has covered the Hong Kong protests.

It's not just Apple removing apps from its storefront.

The existence of such an app shows that "most of the Hong Kong people, maybe they're really afraid of the police nowadays", she said.

The Trump regime recently blacklisted 28 tech companies in China for their participation in the system of concentration camps that hold an estimated 1 million Uyghur people. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong authorities had contacted Google with concerns about that app - though the company has said it chose to take action before any communication took place.

A Hong Kong lawmaker has warned Apple from becoming an "accomplice for Chinese censorship and oppression", and expressed disappointment in the firm for banning a map app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police presence.