Less than a day after Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for allowing HKmap in the App Store, the People's Map app said it was written off. The removal comes less than a week after Apple reversed its original decision to reject the app, which provides information on the location of pro-democracy demonstrations, street closures and police activity (the site is still available).
After Apple allowed HKmap in the App Store, an article in China Daily, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China, criticized the company, claiming it allowed "insurgents in Hong Kong to go on violent acts," and added that "Business is business, and politics is politics … Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and unwavering decision."
While the Chinese government has labeled protesters as violent, including through coordinated campaigns on social media, human rights groups as Amnesty International documented multiple instances of police brutality against protesters.
HKmap's creators dispute Apple claims it threatened law enforcement and residents, saying they disagree d.
1. We disagree @Apple and @hkpoliceforce claim that the HKmap App deferred law enforcement and Hong Kong residents. #HKmap #HKmaplive #HK  #Censur
– HKmap.live 全港 抗爭 即時 地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 10, 2019
The app's developers added that "there is 0 evidence to support CSTCB's [the Hong Kong Police Force’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau] allegation that The HKmap app has been used to target and enforce police, threaten people's safety, and criminals have used it to make residents victims in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. "They also noted that other apps that contain public and public information, Waze, used by commuters to avoid traffic cameras and police, are still allowed in the App Store.
“The cited Apple review policy for the App Store is vague, does it include user-generated content? We are confident that the content requests, promotes or encourages criminal activity in Facebook, Instagram, Safari, Telegram, Twitter, Waze, Whatsapp, etc. at some point, "wrote HKmap's developers.
Democratic demonstrations began in March for to protest a now-drawn bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, but has grown to include additional claims that center on Hong Kong's ability to safeguard rights, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression, under "one country, two systems" policy that has been in place since it was returned from British rule to China in 1997.
This is the latest in several decisions made by Apple that have concerned pro-democracy observers and appear to be reassured by China's government, the third largest market after sales. Two years ago, it removed VPN apps from the App Store in China, and over the past week has removed the Taiwan flag emojis from the Hong Kong iOS keyboard and the Quartz app version from the Hong Kong App Store, reportedly due to its protest coverage.
TechCrunch has contacted Apple for comment.