The application adopted by protesters in Hong Kong has been removed from the App Store. With logic similar to that of Waze, HKmap has been used by people in protests to report the location of police and closed streets, but according to Apple, it has broken some rules.
The company said HKmap was removed for violating App Store guidelines and local laws, but did not specify what the violations would be. However, what really drew attention was the fact that the decision was made after the China Daily, newspaper linked to the government of China, criticize the app.
In an editorial, the vehicle said that the creators of HKmap had “bad intentions” when providing their navigation service. “Apple’s approval for the app obviously helps protesters. What was your real intention? ”.
The newspaper accused protesters of carrying out violent acts and classified them as “audacious”. “Apple chose to approve the application on the App Store in Hong Kong at that time. Does it mean that Apple intended to be an accomplice to the protesters? ”
O China Daily he also criticized a track on Hong Kong’s Apple Music that defends the region’s independence and said the company should think about the consequences of its “reckless” decision. “Providing a gateway to ‘toxic applications’ is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.”
Apple has removed the app before
This is not the first time that HKmap has been removed from the App Store. He had already been banned in early October. Last week, the punishment was reversed and, now, the application has become unavailable to iOS users, who need to access the service through the browser.
Apple said in a statement that it found that HKmap was used in ways that put law enforcement and residents in the region at risk. “Many concerned customers in Hong Kong contacted us about this application and we immediately started investigating it.”
“The app displays the location of police and we checked with the Hong Kong Department of Cyber Crime and Technology that the app was used to attack and ambush police, threaten public security and that criminals used it to victimize residents in areas where they know that there is no law enforcement ”.
HKmap questions Apple’s decision
In its Twitter profile, the service criticized Apple’s decision and said there was no evidence that the app was used to threaten public security, as the Chinese government accuses.
HKmap criticized the stretch of Apple guidelines which prohibits apps that “solicit, promote or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior” because they understand that it is vague and makes it unclear whether it includes user-generated content.
“HKmap never solicits, promotes or encourages criminal activity,” he said. “We are sure that there is content that ‘solicits, promotes or encourages criminal activity’ on Facebook, Instagram, Safari, Telegram, Waze, WhatsApp etc. at any moment”.
Still according to the platform, most comments on the App Store indicated that the app improves public safety, and not the other way around. For HKMap, removal is “a political decision to suppress freedom and human rights in Hong Kong”.
“HKMap is used by passers-by, protesters, journalists, tourists and even supporters of the government,” he said. “It can be difficult for outsiders to imagine tear gases in their neighborhood, train station or shopping mall, but approximately 5,000 of them have been launched since June.”