If you have been following the news for the last couple of weeks, you must be familiar with the ongoing Hong Kong protests. The protest has been going on since March of 2019 and has now involved tech companies as well. Just days after Blizzard caught fire for removing an esports player for saying “Liberate Hong Kong,” “Revolution of our age!” during a live stream, Apple is now under attack for removing two apps connected to the Hong Kong movement.
According to Quartz investigations editor John Keefe, Apple has removed their app from the iTunes Store. Quartz has been covering the Hong Kong protests in detail and as a result, the website has been banned in mainland China. Apple stated that the company is following up on a request made by the Chinese government.
Apple just took the Quartz app out of the Chinese app store at the request of China, and https://t.co/M7MXa7n7AG is now blocked from mainland China. Our excellent @qz coverage of ongoing Hong Kong protests may be the reason: https://t.co/FI4pcyzARz
— John Keefe (@jkeefe) October 9, 2019
Not only that, but the company also pulled HKmap.live which has been used by the public to track the police movements. Apple removed the app after it received a request from the Hong Kong authorities. The company cited that the app “has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong” as the reason for the removal.
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.
Just after Apple removed the apps, #BoycottApple has been trending on all the social media platforms with users voicing their discontent with Apple’s move. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Apple has been under fire for pulling something like this. Back in 2017, the company pulled The New York Times app from the App Store stating that the Chinese government had requested the app’s removal because it was “in violation of local regulations.”