Apple Removes App That Enabled Hong Kong Protesters To Track Police Movements, Claims It Was Not Motivated By Profits

Apple CEO Tim Cook during a company’s launch event (Representative Image)

Apple on Thursday (10 October) hastily withdrew a mapping application that enabled Hong Kong protesters to track police movements after facing criticism from Chinese and Hong Kong authorities, Financial Times reported.

The app, HKmap.live, represented clusters of police with the emoji of a dog, an insult that has been hurled at Hong Kong cops during the ongoing agitation in the city. The app was created based on crowdsourced real-time locations of traffic obstructions, police, and protesters,

In a statement released on Thursday, Apple said that the HKmap.live has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. The company also added that the decision to withdraw the app from its online store was after Hong Kong authorities verified that it was used to “threaten public safety”, and that criminals have also been using it to avoid police.

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On Wednesday the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily published a scathing editorial attacking Apple for aiding “rioters” in the city. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” the editorial thundered.

Apple also withdrew the mobile app of digital portal Quartz from its App Store in mainland China, a move said to be a fallout of  Qz's coverage of the Hong Kong protests.

Apple dismissed suggestions that it is self-censoring and sacrificing its values in the pursuit of profits. The company generates close to 20 per cent of its revenues and 27 per cent of its profits from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Earlier this week NBA, the US professional basketball league, was embroiled in a controversy  after an official of the Houston Rockets team tweeted expressing solidarity with the Hong Kong protests. This resulted in a huge backlash with the  league’s two main distributors in China,  CCTV and Tencent deciding not to air pre-season games in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

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