Apple CEO Tim Cook has explained why his company decided to succumb to China's pressure and remove an app used by Honk Kong pro-democracy protesters.
Protesters had used the HKmap.live app to monitor police movement based on crowd action. Apple uninstalled the app a few days ago, then reinstalled it, then pulled it again Wednesday, a day after People's Daily published China's state-run news platform suggesting that Apple was an accomplice in "illegal actions "By helping the protesters" to engage in more violence. ”
Reuters reports that Cook defended the decision in a statement posted on an internal company site. “It's no secret that technology can be used for the good or for the sick. This case is no different, "Cook wrote, according to Reuters, who reviewed the letter.
The letter (a copy that technology veteran John Gruber claims has been authentically posted by here ) went on to explain that the company reviewed "credible information" from "users" and the "Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau" and then determined that HKmap.live was used "maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where there is no police present. "
" This use set the app in violation of Hong Kong law, "Cook wrote. "Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store policies that exclude personal injury."
Apple confirmed to Reuters that the letter was written by Cook. The company did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for further confirmation or comment.
"National and international debates will survive us all, and although important, they do not govern facts," Cook wrote. "In this case, we have thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe that this decision best protects our users."
Cook's claims are difficult to confirm, but Pinboard founder and social critic Maciej Cegłowski has been on the ground in Hong Kong for some time and found the Apple CEO comments as suspicious. Ceglowski full statement about the case is available at Daring Fireball and reads in part:
The first claim is that "the app was used maliciously to target individual officers for violence". The app does not show the locations of individual officers at all, it shows general concentrations of police units, with a significant lag.
As the developer and @charlesmok a lawmaker in Hong Kong, has pointed out, the app collects reports from Telegram, Facebook and other sources, and it is believed that a campaign to target individual officers will use a world-readable crowd-sourcing format like this.
What are these incidents where protesters have targeted single police for a deliberate attack? Can Mr. Cook point to a simple example? Can anyone?
US Senator Josh Hawley has contributed greatly to the debate in a tweet "Apple assured me last week that their initial decision to ban this app was a mistake," Hawley wrote. “Looks like the Chinese censors have had a word with them ever since. Who really runs Apple? Tim Cook or Beijing? "