Thursday 10 October 2019 8:20 am

Apple removes Hong Kong protest app HKmap.live that tracks police movements

Apple has deleted the HKmap.live app that allows Hong Kong protesters to track police movements from its App Store.

The tech giant said the app allowed protesters to ambush police in what have become increasingly violent clashes between authorities and anti-government activists.

Read more: Hong Kong bans face masks in crackdown on protesters

HKmap.live only received approval from Apple last week after first being rejected, and worked by crowdsourcing the locations of both police and protesters.

“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,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters.

“It said it had consulted with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau before making its decision.

The iPhone maker also said it had investigated the app after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” had contacted the firm.

Apple said the app was a threat to law enforcement and Hong Kong citizens.

It also removed BackupHK, an app that mirrors the main app and acts as a backup.

A Twitter account associated with HKmap.live’s developer said: “The majority of user review[s] in App Store … suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite.”

HKmap.live worked by collecting social network posts to identify where protesters and police were located.

Moderators removed any that promoted criminal actions, the Twitter account said.

HKmap.live said Apple’s move was “clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human rights in #HongKong”.

The app’s deletion comes after an editorial in China’s People’s Daily that accused Apple of “protecting rioters” with what the newspaper called a “poisonous app”.

The app remains available on web browsers and on Android. Meanwhile previously downloaded versions of HKmap.live still appear to be working on iPhones.

Protesters have also shared coordinated by using the encrypted messaging app Telegram to share police movements.

Apple’s controversial decision follows other firms getting into hot water over Hong Kong.

Read more: ‘The camera works unbelievably well’: Read our review of the iPhone 11 Pro Max

NBA sports team Houston Rockets’ manager Daryl Morey apologised after expressing his support for protesters.

Jewellery brand Tiffany also pulled an ad campaign that depicted a woman covering her eye, which protesters have done after police shot a woman in her right eye.

Share:
Tags: