Tim Cook defends decision to remove Hong Kong mapping app

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However, Google said it had found no policy violation by HKmap.live, and confirmed that the tracking app was available on its app store. The emojis and spontaneous updates proved handy for users to track conditions such as train closures and potential clashes.

Today I wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to tell him his company's decision to remove HKmap live app from Appstore will cause problems for normal Hong Kong's citizens trying to avoid police presence while they are under constant fear ofpolice brutality.

In the week Apple dropped a controversial app and a games firm suspended an e-sports player for making controversial remarks about Hong Kong, Tech Tent looks at the ethical dilemmas for anyone doing business in China. It said it had verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app had been used to target and ambush police, and by criminals to victimise residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook defended the app's removal on October 10, saying that it was based on "credible information" from Hong Kong police and Apple users in Hong Kong.

In the message on an internal Apple website, Cook said the information in the app, including crowdsourced locations of police checkpoints and protest hotspots, was on its own "benign".

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. "This case is no different", Cook wrote, according to Reuters, which reviewed the letter.

The latest about-face came after the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, said in a blog post this week that the app had "betrayed the feelings of the Chinese people".

If Apple reinstates HKmap.live to the App Store it could anger the Chinese government, and maybe even the country's population, which seems capable of an organized revolt against western business entities-like the National Basketball Association, for example.


"We disagree [with Apple's] and [the Hong Kong Police Force]'s claim that HKmap App endanger [s] law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong", the developer tweeted.

At least Apple will have some company in its decision to put its bottom line ahead of human rights. "If HKmap is for target and ambush police or other illegal goal as falsely accused, why would I bother making it available to the public?"

Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended moves like this in the past, arguing that Apple has an obligation to follow the law in each jurisdiction where it operates.

As the protests in Hong Kong rage on, US businesses increasingly walk a tightrope with the Chinese market on one side and public opinion elsewhere on the other.

President Trump, like Apple, only really cares about business.

Hong Kong's Beijing-backed authorities have intensified a crackdown on demonstrators, who have taken to the streets to push for democracy and to oppose Beijing's tightening grip on the semiautonomous financial hub.

HKmap.live expressed disappointment to see USA brands "such as Apple, NBA, Blizzard Entertainment, and Tiffany & Co. act against freedom". Critics pointed out that Apple has approved other apps with similar functionality, including the speed-trap warnings on Waze. Apple removed the app a few days ago, then reinstated it, then pulled it again on Wednesday, a day after People's Daily, China's state-run news platform published a piece that proposed Apple was complicit in "illegal acts" by helping the protestors "engage in more violence". China is Apple's third-largest market; it generated $52 billion in revenues during 2018, mainly from the iPhone. She added that she will reconsider buying more Apple products.

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