They rejected it in the first instance, later approved it, and yesterday, finally, HKmap.live was removed from the Apple app store. This application was used by Hong Kong protesters, according to Apple itself, to show police locations, as well as to report street closures.
The Cupertino-based company has decided to remove such application for "violating its local rules and laws," something that has sparked controversy, as news came from the hand of a similar move by Apple, which eliminated the application of Quartz news in China for similar reasons.
Apple and its movements in China
It's on App Store now https://t.co/bLjjN6yXpA
There will not be any further comments on this matter unless status changes. We understand have many business considerations, but since they already make thing right I don't see any point to keep pressing.
– HKmap.live 全港 抗爭 即時 地圖 () October 5, 2019
HKMap is one of the main applications used by protesters in Hong Kong to mark the 'hot spots' of the protests, thus allowing warning of cut streets, location of police and others. One of the main points of the controversy is that HKMap is a collaborative application, being its own users who share the type of information mentioned above.
HKMap does not violate Apple's guidelines. However, according to the Chinese government, it violates local regulations, and encourages criminal behavior
The application was uploaded to the App Store on October 5, after being rejected in the first instance by Apple. After its publication, the government of China began to press, after considering that the content of the application violated local law.
The closure of the app comes after criticism by the Chinese government, which described, as we read in Reuters, said application "poisonous," denouncing that with her he was an accomplice in helping protesters. Thus, Apple made clear its position regarding the app after its removal.
"We created the App Store to be a safe and reliable place to discover applications. We have learned that an application, HKmap.live, has been used in a way that endangers the application of the law and Hong Kong residents. Many customers Concerned in Hong Kong they have contacted us about this application and we immediately begin to investigate it.The application shows police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Office of Cybersecurity and Technology Crimes that the application has been used to attack and ambush the police, threaten public safety and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This application violates our local laws and regulations, and we have removed it from the App Store. "
In response to closing, the HKmap.live account reported disagreeing with both Apple and the Hong Kong police. They claim that there is "0 evidence" to support the CSTCB (Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau) accusation that the app was used to threaten public safety, and that the application does not promote or encourage criminal activities. As they say, the purpose of the app is to "consolidate the information of users and public sources".
Similarly, they emphasize that the contents are generated by the users and that, therefore, Apple’s movement is questionable. Reviewing the guidelines App Store did not find any "strange" in the application, although Apple claims to have closed for violating local law.
However, the closure of the app comes at the hand of a content that, indeed, has been created and shared by users, so the focus is put on that this same behavior can occur on Twitter, Waze, Instagram, Telegram or any other app that allows to share information collectively.
Apple's third "pro China" movement
iOS 13.1.1 之後 ， 在 香港 、 澳門 的 Emoji 鍵盤 不會 出現 中華民國 國旗 了 – https://t.co/wrI9IR4XuO | Hiraku Dev
– Hiraku () October 3, 2019
Apple has never wanted to position itself for or against the Chinese government, go ahead. However, the closure of HKMap is the third movement, it could be said, "pro China". Just yesterday, the application of Quartz, a news portal with six years of life, disappeared from the Chinese App Store. Again, the application does not violate the guidelines from Apple and, right now, it can be downloaded anywhere in the world, except in China. Quartz has been blocked in the country by the government for its continued coverage of the protests
The closure of HKMap adds to the blockade of Quartz, as well as the elimination of the Taiwanese flag according to location, movements that Apple is only making in China
The elimination of HKMap, the withdrawal of the Taiwanese flag in the Apple keyboard emojis only if you are Hong Kong or Macao (since China considers that any allusion to Taiwan is a crime against its sovereignty) and the closure of the application of Quartz, they put Apple in a delicate position, since, voluntarily or not, their movements point in one direction.