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Apple removes two apps related to the Hong Kong protests after criticism from Chinese media

Apple removes two apps related to the Hong Kong protests after criticism from Chinese media
[Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images]

Apple has removed two apps from the Chinese App Store—both of them related to the Hong Kong protests. One of the apps, HKmap Live, was originally pulled by Apple over a week ago, yet the company quickly reinstated it.

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However, as the Nikkei Asian Review reported yesterday, after the state-run People’s Daily newspaper blasted Apple yesterday for allowing HKmap Live in the App Store, saying Apple’s actions “betrayed the feelings of the Chinese people” and claiming the app encourages violence in Hong Kong, Apple has now removed HKmap Live again.

In a statement about the removal of HKmap Live, Apple said:

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.

However, the app’s makers say there’s no evidence their app has been used by people to ambush police in the city. Apple did not clarify how the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau verified these claims with them.

In perhaps an even more shocking move, yesterday Apple removed the app of the publication Quartz from the Chinese App Store after getting complaints from the Chinese government. The publication said it received a notice from Apple that the Quartz app “includes content that is illegal in China.” Quartz has been reporting on the protests in Hong Kong continuously for months.

Apple has not publicly commented on the removal of the Quartz app in China.

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