Published: Fri, October 11, 2019
Tech | By Anita Cain

Hong Kong shopping malls and MTR close early ahead of protests

Hong Kong shopping malls and MTR close early ahead of protests

Apple has yanked an app called HKmap.live from its app store just days after approving it.

Before that, party mouthpiece the People's Daily and its sister publication the Global Times had been leading a media charge against the transportation and positioning app since last week, which was launched by a team of anonymous developers to help protesters in Hong Kong track police deployments and their anti-riot assets. 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 news organization Quartz, which has been covering the Hong Kong protests in depth, recently found its app unavailable from Apple's app store in China.

Four months of large and often violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong pose the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012. Now Google has banned a game about the protests, joining Apple and Blizzard in allegedly suppressing anything that might offend the Chinese government.

She added that she will reconsider buying more Apple products.

But in less than 24 hours, Apple reversed its decision and on Thursday banned the app outright.

On Twitter, an account believed to be owned by the HKlive.map app's developer said it disagreed with Apple's decision and there was no evidence the app had been used in ambushes.

The company said in a statement that it removed HKmap.live from its app store because it "has been used to target and ambush police" and "threaten public safety".

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok wrote to Apple's chief Tim Cook urging the company to stand up to Chinese pressure and requested the app be restored.

On Wednesday, People's Daily Online, the state-run news outlet of the Communist Party, blasted Apple for providing access to the app. "Business is business, and politics is politics".

"Apple should be transparent and fair in its decisions to remove apps and stand up for freedom of speech".

China has warned foreign governments to stay out of the protests which they deem as an internal affair and have accused some, including Britain and the United States, of fanning anti-China sentiment. The Quartz app is still available in the U.S. and, according to censorship-tracking site Apple Censorship, in Hong Kong.

"In response to rumours on the Internet saying that there were members of the People's Liberation Army or mainland law enforcement agencies joining the law enforcement operations of the Hong Kong Police Force, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today seriously clarified that the rumours are false and groundless", the government said in statement.

Hong Kong police also had no immediate comment.

Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., also is an important asset for China.

Earlier this week, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey touched off a heated controversy by tweeting support for the Hong Kong protesters.

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