UPDATED 2:20 PM PST – Thursday, October 10, 2019
Apple is the latest U.S. firm to get dragged into Hong Kong’s turmoil. China’s state media has accused the company of protecting protesters with an app that tracks the movement of police in the city. The HKmap.live app was used recently by protesters during the sometimes violent demonstrations.
Apple has since removed the police-tracking app from its store, saying it’s been used by Hong Kong protesters to ambush police and victimize residents. In a statement, Apple said concerned customers in the city contacted the company, who immediately began investigating the apps’ use.
“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,” the company said.
A Twitter account believed to be owned by the developer of the app said it disagreed with the decision, and said there was no evidence to support the claims against it.
The app has drawn the ire of the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. The paper accused Apple of complicity in helping the protesters and asked if it was “thinking clearly.” It claimed the tech giant had no sense of right and wrong and is ignoring the truth.
“Apple, like other companies, should be able to distinguish between right and wrong and understand that its market would only be more promising and substantial if China and Hong Kong are doing well,” said the paper.
Many U.S. brands, including Vans sportswear and the NBA basketball league, have run afoul of Chinese sensitivities about Hong Kong. HKmap.live app has become a lightning rod for those for and against the protests.