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Yesterday, Apple removed an app from the App Store that made it possible for Hong Kong protesters to keep track of police movements.
This comes only a day after the company faced severe criticism from government media in China, plunging one of America’s biggest technology companies knee-deep into the Hong Kong political crisis.
Apple announced that it was pulling the HKmap.live app from the App Store only days after it was initially approved because Hong Kong authorities said that it was being used by protesters in attacks on police.
On Tuesday, the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, accused Apple in an editorial of assisting the Hong Kong rioters. The newspaper added: “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings.”
In its statement yesterday, Apple said that the app clearly revealed police locations, and that it has been confirmed with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the HKmap.live app has been used to ambush and target police.
The company added that the app also threatened public safety, and that it had been used by criminals to target residents in locations where the app showed that there was no police presence.
Apple’s statement concluded by saying: “This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”
Apple’s changed stance on the HKmap.live app follows strong pressure from Beijing on international firms to stay out of the Hong Kong riots.
Earlier this week, China cancelled broadcasts of exhibition NBA games after the Houston Rockets’ general manager supported the rioters in a tweet.
A few days ago, Apple also removed an app of US news organisation Quarts from the App Store after Chinese official media claimed that by approving it, the company was aiding the Hong Kong rioters.