Apple Reinstates the Ban on Controversial Location App After Pressure from China

George Herman
George Herman
IT Security Expert

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It appears that the amount of pressure China has put on Apple regarding the HKmap.live app is far too great to be ignored. At first, the tech company banned the app from their App Store, only to reverse that decision a few days later. And now, Apple officially reversed its reversal. Crazy, we know.

Here’s Apple’s official statement on the matter:

We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. 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. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.

Apple’s latest move regarding the app was to be expected, especially since Chinese media accused the company of being an “accomplice” in the protests. An editorial by People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, claimed that:

“Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings.”

In a series of tweets, the developers of HKmap.live expressed their disagreement with Apple’s and HK police force’s claim that the app endangers law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong, claiming that “There is 0 evidence to support CSTCB’s accusation,” and stating yet again that:

“HKmap App never solicits, promotes, or encourages criminal activity. HKmap App consolidates information from user and public sources, e.g. live news stream, Facebook and Telegram.”

Apple hasn’t explicitly pointed out exactly which laws the app was violating. It is important to note that apps like Waze is still available on the App Store, making Apple’s claims very hypocritical and biased. The company has even went as far as removing the news outlet application Quartz, which provided strong coverage of the HK protests.

The web version of HKmap.live is still accessible on the iPhone.

With seeing how things have unfolded, users’ suspicions that Apple is just “sucking up to China” may not be unfounded after all.

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