Apple Reverses Decision to Ban Controversial Hong Kong App

George Herman
George Herman
IT Security Expert

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Last week, Apple banned the crowd-sourced app HKmap.live, which allowed people to track protests and police activity in Hong Kong. According to the tech company, the application “contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement”. The developers commented that the app was quickly approved for download on Android devices, making Apple’s decision quite confusing.

However, Apple lifted the ban on Friday, making the app available in Hong Kong.

The reverse of their original decision could be influenced by the caused uproar among users, who argued that the app does not promote illegal activities, but simply allows people to note locations.

The developers of HKmap.live say that the app is created to show events happening in Hong Kong, and people can use that information how they like. They also say that:

We don’t encourage any advice on the map in general. Our ultimate goal is safety for everyone.

It was also stated by many people, including the creators of HKmap.live, that the location feature can be seen in many other apps, i.e. Waze, which was not affected by the ban.

This led users to think that maybe Apple is just “sucking up to China”.

This is not the first time Apple has been accused of complying with requests from the Chinese authorities. Even the Chinese-owned platform TikTok faces accusations of censoring protest-related content. None of the companies have commented on these claims.

Hong Kong protests continue to escalate, and even passed the ‘5 month’ mark. Regardless of the police situation in the semi-autonomous province, Hongkongers continue to fight for their very right to exist autonomously from the Chinese mainland.

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