Apple pulls cop-tracking app after China protests

Apple pulls cop-tracking app after China protests

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Chinese state media accused Apple of protecting “rioters” in Hong Kong, after the company approved an application that tracks police activity in the city. The app has now been pulled, in another case of U.S. companies being chastised by China for taking sides in the protests. Apple says it pulled the app over concerns it endangered police and residents, saying they were informed the app was being “used to target and ambush police" and threaten public safety.

The app, called HKmap.live, tracks the location of police presence in the city and displays hotspots on a map of the city that is continuously updated as users report incidents. It uses different emojis to give traffic information about locations across the city, especially during protests. Apple had previously rejected the app but later reversed its decision and made the app available on the iOS App Store on Saturday. They announced Wednesday night that it would be removed.

“Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision,” a China Daily writer warned before the removal.

“Providing a gateway for ‘toxic apps’ is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and against the views and principles of the Chinese people,” he continues. “Apple and other corporations should be able to discern right from wrong. They also need to know that only the prosperity of China and China’s Hong Kong will bring them a broader and more sustainable market.”

The app’s developer denied the map enables illegal activity, saying its function is “for info” purposes only — to allow residents to move freely around the city, Tech Crunch reports.

China's market has in the past put a serious dent in Apple’s bottom line.

Photo credit: Studio Incendo

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