ALL NEWS

Unlike NBA, Apple bows to Beijing, removes Hong Kong app

Oct 10, 2019, 5:26 AM
A display of the app "HKmap.live" designed by an outside supplier and available on Apple Inc.'s onl...
A display of the app "HKmap.live" designed by an outside supplier and available on Apple Inc.'s online store is seen in Hong Kong Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Apple became the latest company targeted for Chinese pressure over protests in Hong Kong when the ruling Communist Party's main newspaper criticized the tech giant Wednesday for a smartphone app that allows activists to report police movements. HKmap.live, designed by an outside supplier and available on Apple Inc.'s online store, "facilitates illegal behavior," People's Daily said in a commentary. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG (AP) — For people in Hong Kong angry over tactics used by the police to break up anti-government protests, the HKmap.live app was a handy little tool.

With real-time updates showing police movements, it helps steer users away from possible baton charges, volleys of tear gas and police ID checks.

For Apple Inc., that proved to be a problem.

Succumbing to pressure to take Beijing’s side in the protest crisis shaking Hong Kong, Apple removed the smartphone app from its online store Thursday.

In doing so, it immediately alienated some customers in Hong Kong, even those who haven’t been yelling in fury on the streets these past four months.

Apple phone user Canny Ng has taken to wearing black to express sympathy for the protesters though with a 6-month-old baby at home she’s followed the demonstrations on TV, not in the streets.

Apple’s decision was “not acceptable,” she said, adding she’ll think twice about buying more of the company’s products.

HKmap.live is “quite useful,” she said. “I just want to find a way that I won’t see any police, especially when I’m wearing black. You’re worried that, oh, maybe they will check your ID,” she said.

The existence of such an app shows “most of the Hong Kong people, maybe they’re really afraid of the police nowadays,” she said.

While no longer available for download, the app still works for users who had already downloaded it to their Apple devices. It also works on Android devices and in web browsers.

As of Thursday evening, it was still posting locations of police patrols and activities.

Apple acted under pressure from various channels, including the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

“Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?” it asked.

The company said in a statement that it removed HKmap.live from its app store because it “has been used to target and ambush police” and “threaten public safety.”

“Criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” Apple said. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

Hong Kong office worker Acko Wong, 26, scoffed at the suggestion that the app helped give a free rein to criminals.

He said the argument that the app could be used to ambush police and point criminals to areas where police aren’t stationed “does not make sense.”

“How do you ambush a group of police with equipment and gear like helmets and shields?” he asked.

Wong said he downloaded the app to steer clear of “danger and traffic” during the many battles between protesters and police that have put Hong Kong on edge and prompted a government ban, enforceable by a 1-year prison sentence, on the face masks that many protesters wear to shield their identity.

“If you know there are many police in that area, I’m afraid they will arrest me for like wearing a mask or dressing in black or even if I’m young,” he told AP.

A Twitter account linked to the app posted a statement denying it endangered police or Hong Kong residents. It said the app collects information from its users and public sources and doesn’t “solicit, promote or encourage criminal activity.”

The AP was unable to confirm whether the statement was posted by the app’s developers.

The app is one of many tactics used by Hong Kong residents to stay informed about the location of police patrols and document police activities. Widely decried as heavy-handed, the handling of the protests has collapsed public support for what long was considered one of Asia’s best police forces.

Users also use the encrypted messaging app Telegram, to post locations and photos of police.

The protests were triggered by a now-abandoned government plan to allow criminal suspects to be extradited for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China. It has snowballed into a broader battle to stem the erosion of the Western-style civil liberties and autonomy promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997.

The crisis is putting pressure on those doing business with China to take sides.

Beijing’s criticism of Apple followed government attacks last weekend on the National Basketball Association over a comment by the general manager of the Houston Rockets in support of the protesters. China’s state TV has canceled broadcasts of NBA games.

People’s Daily warned Apple’s reputation with Chinese consumers might suffer.

“Apple needs to think deeply,” the newspaper said.

Brands targeted in the past by Beijing have been subjected to campaigns by the entirely state-controlled press to drive away consumers or to disruptive investigations by tax authorities and other regulators.

China is vital for Apple’s business.

It’s Apple’s second-biggest market after the United States and CEO Tim Cook says it eventually will become No. 1.

Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, also is an important asset for China.

Most of its iPhones and tablet computers are assembled in Chinese factories that employ hundreds of thousands of people. Chinese vendors supply components for Mac Pro computers that are assembled in Texas.

___

McDonald reported from Beijing.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

A 78-year-old man is in critical condition after the vehicle he was driving struck a TRAX train Tue...
Mark Jones

Man injured after vehicle collides with TRAX train

A 78-year-old man is in critical condition after the vehicle he was driving struck a TRAX train on Tuesday afternoon.
1 day ago
The open house for the San Juan Puerto Rico Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Sain...
Mark Jones

Open house for San Juan Puerto Rico Temple begins this week

The San Juan Puerto Rico Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will hold an open house Dec. 1-17. It will be dedicated on Jan. 15, 2023.
1 day ago
Eli Mitchell, victim of fatal hit and run...
Mark Jones

Utah County man pleads guilty to death of West Jordan teenager

A Saratoga Springs man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Third District Court of automobile homicide in connection to the death of a 13-year-old West Jordan teenager last April.
1 day ago
House fire in Tooele leaves one dead....
Waverly Golden

One dead after house fire in Tooele

A woman is dead after a house fire in Tooele, Utah, around 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 29. Police and firefighters responded.
1 day ago
A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit

After a significant snowfall in northern Utah, are you prepared for a winter emergency while on the roads? Wade Mathews of Utah Division of Emergency Management -- Be Ready Utah joins the shows to give out holidays tips on being prepared for any challenges while driving.
1 day ago
Former Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert speaks at the start of demolition at the old Utah State Priso...
Aimee Cobabe

Demolition begins at the old Utah State Prison in Draper

It took years to get the Utah State Prison to this point. Now, the site will be repurposed and built into a so-called "15-minute community."
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Unlike NBA, Apple bows to Beijing, removes Hong Kong app