Apple pulls app that tracked Hong Kong police

Apple has removed an app that Hong Kong protesters have used to track police movement, following pressure from China.

Pro-democracy protesters had used the crowdsourced app, called HKmap.live, to avoid water cannon fire, ID checks and tear gas, as they keep up weeks-long demonstrations.

Apple, which had originally banned the app, last week allowed it to sit on its App Store, drawing criticism from China’s ruling Communist Party.

The party’s official paper People’s Daily called the app “poisonous”, and said Apple was helping the protesters.

The company says it conducted an investigation into the app, after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” had contacted them with complaints, and found it to violate its rules.

Apple said: “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 victimise 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.”

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A Twitter account believed to be owned by the developers of HKmap.live said that there was no evidence that Hong Kong police were being ambushed.

“The majority of user review in App Store that suggest HKmap IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite,” it said, adding that the app did not promote criminal activity.

The removal angered some protesters and risked alienating customers who sympathise with the protesters.

The app was one of many tactics used by protesters in Hong Kong, who began their campaign after a now-abandoned bill was brought forward which would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

The protests have evolved into a broader battle to increase Western-style civil liberties and autonomy promised to the former British colony when it was returned to China in 1997.

Protests over the mask ban are growing in the centre of the city
Image: The Hong Kong executive has recently tried to ban masks, which has angered protestors who do not want to be identified

At the weekend, the Chinese government attacked the National Basketball Association over a tweet by the general manager of the Houston Rockets in support of the protesters.

China’s state TV cancelled the airing of NBA games in protest.

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