Apple has removed HKmap.live, a mass broadcast mapping app widely used by Hong Kong residents, from the App Store. The app and its associated web service have been used to mark police locations and inform street closures during the ongoing protocratic democracies that have engulfed Hong Kong this year.
Here is Apple's statement:
We created the App Store to be a safe and reliable place to discover apps. We've learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that jeopardize law enforcement and Hong Kong residents. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately started researching it. The app shows police locations, and we have confirmed with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten people's safety, and criminals have used it to make residents victims in areas where they know it there is no law enforcement. This app violates our policies and local laws and we have removed it from the App Store.
"There is 0 evidence supporting CSTCB's charges," HKmap developers said in response. “The HKmap App never encourages, promotes or encourages criminal activity. HKmap App consolidates information from user and public sources, e.g. live news stream, Facebook and Telegram. ”
Yesterday, the English-language state media outlet China Daily blew Apple's decision to allow HKmap.live to the App Store. "Offering a gateway for & # 39; toxic apps & # 39; is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting facts about Hong Kong's affairs and against the views and principles of the Chinese people," op-ed claimed.
Apple's enforcement of App Store policies is inconsistent at best, so it's hard to take the statement at face value. The company has not said what "local laws" HKmap.live can break. However, it's worth pointing out that apps like Waze – which similarly allows users to track the location of police checkpoints – remain in the App Store elsewhere. Earlier today, Apple also removed the app for the news outlet Quartz which has provided strong coverage of Hong Kong protests, from China's App Store.
Currently, HKmap.live's online version is still available on the iPhone.