Apple draws criticisms for deleting app one day after China rebuke

12 Octobre, 2019, 14:13 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook speaks at an Apple event at their headquarters in Cupertino California on Sept 10 2019

Apple's CEO Tim Cook defended the app's removal on October 10, saying that it was based on "credible information" from Hong Kong police and Apple users in Hong Kong.

It added that "this app violates our guidelines and local laws".

The removal came after China condemned the app's goal for facilitating "illegal behavior" in a Wednesday blog post published by the Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper The People's Daily.

"National and global debates will outlive us all, and, while important they do not govern the facts", said Cook in defense of Apple's decision. He says a lot of American tech firms are thinking of building manufacturing sites outside China - "they worry the tariffs (imposed by the USA on Chinese-produced goods) may become permanent". Individual officers are not displayed on the map, an online version of which is still live: only large concentrations of police are shown, with the stated intention of allowing protestors to avoid rather than confront law enforcement.

"Providing a gateway for "toxic apps" is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people", the paper said, confirming that Hkmap.live opened the door to violent protests. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong authorities had contacted Google with concerns about that app - though the company has said it made a decision to take action before any communication took place.

"However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimise individuals and property where no police are present". "I can't recall an Apple memo or statement that crumbles so quickly under scrutiny", he wrote on Friday.

The removal of two apps from the App Store in Hong Kong brought Apple into the public eye once again, as the controversial decision was seen by most as the company bending to Chinese will and criticism.

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"The majority of user review (s) in App Store. suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite", it said.

"We disagree [with Apple's] and [the Hong Kong Police Force]'s claim that HKmap App endanger [s] law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong", the developer tweeted.

Neither China's foreign ministry nor the information office of the State Council had an immediate comment when asked about the HKmap.live app removal. Blizzard Entertainment, meanwhile, suspended a professional gamer for a year for reportedly shouting "Liberate Hong Kong!" during an interview. In recent quarters, China has accounted for more than 15% of Apple's global sales.

"We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet, and have great coverage of how to get around such bans around the world", Quartz Chief Executive Zach Seward told The Verge in a statement. According to reporting in the New York Times, Beijing is concerned its actions are drawing more attention to the protests and harming the country's standing on the global stage, adding yet more tension to relations with the United States as trade talks restart in Washington.

The People's Daily newspaper, in its commentary on Tuesday, said Apple did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth.

The anonymous developer of HKmap.live responded to Apple's decision in a series of Wednesday tweets.

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