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Apple Follows China’s Will And Removes Hong Kong Protest Map App From App Store

Cartography, as it is, is serious business. But when Landscape maps start dealing with things like geopolitics and sovereign territories, then things get really prickly, as Apple was made all too aware of recently.

Apple recently took heat for allowing HKmap.live on its app store. The app is used by the country’s pro-democracy protesters to track the HKPF’s movements, and the country immediately took notice, with state media blasting the tech company for allowing the app on their market, saying that the company would face consequences for allowing such a “poisonous” app to be distributed on its platform.

The tech company caved, removing the app from its app store. Notably, Apple Inc. also removed the Quartz app from the Chinese market of its app store, as well as getting rid of the Taiwan flag emoji from the keyboard of its iPhones, at least for those living in Hong Kong, as part of its latest software update.

The notable thing is that Apple already previously rejected the map prior to allowing it on its App Store. The dynamic online Landscape maps app was originally available on Google Play, but was rejected by Apple on the grounds that enabled illegal activity by allowing its users to avoid local law enforcement. Apple later rolled back their rejection, allowing it on their App Store early October, before pulling it, only a few days after letting it onto the market, following the warning from China’s state media.

In a statement on the HKMap.Live Twitter page, the administrator of the app stated that there was no evidence proving that the app was being used to target and ambush police officers, and noted that the app pulls from public sources of data, like livestreams from news outlets, as well as vet entries. They finished up by saying that public user reviews on the HKMap.Live’s App Store page suggested that it helped improve public safety, instead of the opposite, as per claimed.

Critics of the move have noted that the app doesn’t behave differently from other, similar apps, like Google’s Waze, which utilizes real-time data acquired from users, which include reports on high-crime areas.

American companies have been under pressure from the Chinese government for anything that the latter perceive as support of the ongoing pro-democracy protests, which the state has denounced as a separatist movement.

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