Apple again pulls police monitoring app from Hong Kong app store [u]

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 10
In an ongoing saga, Apple has again pulled the law enforcement-monitoring HKMap Live app from the Hong Kong app store, and it appears that it is gone for good this time.

HK Livemapp pulled from the App Store


The on-again off-again HKmap Live was an app intended to track police activity on the streets of Hong Kong. The stated objective of the app developers was to provide a tool for users to avoid areas where protesters and police conflicts could potentially take place.

Chinese state media penned an editorial on Wednesday regarding the matter. In that editorial, People's Daily said that Apple's restoration of the app was an "unwise and reckless decision." Additionally, it said that "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."

In a statement regarding the latest pull, Apple defined its stance on the matter.
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.
Tensions have continued to mount between law enforcement officers and those protesting. The HKmap app also provided information for when police declare something an illegal assembly -- meaning that the app does have a legal use and could theoretically provide aid to the police by helping people avoid areas deemed as unlawful protests.

I can't stop tweeting because I'm so angry (this should be the site motto). Another thing the map shows is when police raise a blue flag for ILLEGAL ASSEMBLY. Wandering into this puts you in legal jeopardy, a potential 5-10 year jail sentence. And the police don't want you there!

-- Pinboard (@Pinboard)


Despite the fact that the app has been pulled from the App Store for the second time now, there is still a live version available online.

Update: Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the matter in a memo to Apple employees. The note was posted to Pastebin and later confirmed accurate by blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball.
Team,

You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live. These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. It's out of my great respect for the work you do every day that I want to share the way we went about making this decision.

It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm.

We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user. It's a responsibility that we take very seriously, and it's one that we aim to preserve. National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.

Tim
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 69
    Thanks to AppleInsider for linking to the live version. 

    This raises the question whether installing web apps shouldn’t be easier; just like how a website can link to their AppStore app in a way that Safari recognizes it?
  • Reply 2 of 69
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
  • Reply 3 of 69
    rgh71rgh71 Posts: 116member
    F tha poleese -NWA
  • Reply 4 of 69
    rgh71rgh71 Posts: 116member
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    Ok, but Charlie don’t surf fellow comrade!
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 5 of 69
    Tim Apple knows not to upset his Chinese overlords.
    razorpitbigtdshmurchisonjbdragonlkruppcornchipMichael3357chemengin1
  • Reply 6 of 69
    ivanhivanh Posts: 391member
    Cook, on your knee!
    Cook, rise!
    Good cook. Unlike NBA.
    bigtds
  • Reply 7 of 69
    svanstrom said:
    Thanks to AppleInsider for linking to the live version. 

    This raises the question whether installing web apps shouldn’t be easier; just like how a website can link to their AppStore app in a way that Safari recognizes it?
    Arguably it's about the same difficulty to install a PWA (the term for online or offline web apps). Since the whole process is just four taps: Once on the link to visit the PWA, once on the share sheet, once to 'add to the homescreen' and finally once to accept the name and icon. I doubt they'll get App-style header banners anytime soon because Apple has a wholly hands-off approach to PWAs, plus developers can already do this manually. (Plenty of sites direct users to install the web app version.)

    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    I think people read too much into what Apple does with the stores, trying to give the impression that Apple is an individual with thoughts and feelings and not a corporation that is simply following their pre-defined policies: If the app breaks a local law or Apple's guidelines then they'll remove it. This process is largely immune from influence, especially government influence, and we see Apple time and time again resist government requests when the government fails to establish the legal foundation for removal. Leading to some ping-ponging of app availability, including highly controversial titles.
    charlesgresSpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 69
    ivanhivanh Posts: 391member
    Tim Cook didn’t know what he’s doing...  no wonder Apple is Made in China.
    cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 69
    I understand why Apple is doing this. But the Chinese government is still acting like a thug. Please email Tim Cook & other  executives to take production out of China. There are democracies in South Asia that are more deserving of it.
    razorpitGG1jbdragonStrangeDayslkruppben20magman1979
  • Reply 10 of 69
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    I cannot even express how glad I am that the Founders weren't as...shortsighted as you. 
    svanstrombigtdshmurchisonjbdragonStrangeDayscharlesatlasmagman1979Michael3357chemengin1
  • Reply 11 of 69
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,267member
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    https://twitter.com/Pinboard/status/1181790993705660416

    What law was subverted?

    Further are you OK with news also being muzzled, Quartz app removed by Apple because China did not like their reporting on the Hong Kong demonstrations? Is press freedom and the right of the people to know about situations that affect their life even if the government would prefer they didn't another one of those rights you'd like to see beaten back into submission?

    Would you claim another smart and ethical move by Apple in the name of law and order?
    edited October 10 svanstrombigtdscornchipchemengin1
  • Reply 12 of 69
    I understand why Apple is doing this. But the Chinese government is still acting like a thug. Please email Tim Cook & other  executives to take production out of China. There are democracies in South Asia that are more deserving of it.
    Sure. Google, Dell, Microsoft, Apple, HP, and many more should work together and have a plan to divest the supply chain to some other places so they can have a better leverage. I am all for that. 
    bigtdsMichael3357
  • Reply 13 of 69
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,267member
    mubaili said:
    I understand why Apple is doing this. But the Chinese government is still acting like a thug. Please email Tim Cook & other  executives to take production out of China. There are democracies in South Asia that are more deserving of it.
    Sure. Google, Dell, Microsoft, Apple, HP, and many more should work together and have a plan to divest the supply chain to some other places so they can have a better leverage. I am all for that. 
    Google for one has, moving smartphone and many other smart-product production out of China and into Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia in recent months. Amazon and Microsoft have begun doing the same. https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3014117/google-moving-some-hardware-production-out-china-avoid-us-tariffs-and https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-microsoft-google-plan-to-move-production-away-from-china-2019-7
    edited October 10 svanstrombigtdsben20muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 69
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,064member
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    I cannot even express how glad I am that the Founders weren't as...shortsighted as you. 
    History often forgets there were people in the 1770’s who wanted to remain loyal to the king. Perhaps George is a descendant of one?
    beowulfschmidtbigtdsStrangeDayscornchipMichael3357
  • Reply 15 of 69
    I understand why Apple is doing this. But the Chinese government is still acting like a thug. Please email Tim Cook & other  executives to take production out of China. There are democracies in South Asia that are more deserving of it.
    So you're saying Apple should adopt political, ideological and nationalist direction?
    ...  That works -- until the next election.  

    Corporations need to be apolitical.   And international corporations need to be global rather than nationalist.   They can' pick and choose which laws they will obey.
  • Reply 16 of 69
    gatorguy said:
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    https://twitter.com/Pinboard/status/1181790993705660416

    What law was subverted?

    ...
    The one that says you aren't allowed to aid and abet those who attack innocent civilians, destroy property both public & private, attack police and throw Molotov cocktails at them.   That law.
  • Reply 17 of 69
    mubaili said:
    I understand why Apple is doing this. But the Chinese government is still acting like a thug. Please email Tim Cook & other  executives to take production out of China. There are democracies in South Asia that are more deserving of it.
    Sure. Google, Dell, Microsoft, Apple, HP, and many more should work together and have a plan to divest the supply chain to some other places so they can have a better leverage. I am all for that. 
    No, they aren't in business to support political agendas.  They are in business to produce the best products they can as cheaply as they can -- and then sell them to as many people as they can.   That means producing and selling in and to China -- and increasingly, taking advantage of China's R&D capabilities.
  • Reply 18 of 69
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    Law and order is good and should not be subverted.  Sounds like a line out of a bad B movie about Kim Jong Un... uttered as he shoots his uncle with an anti-aircraft gun.  

    Waze
    RadarBot
    Cobra iRadar
    Speed Camera Radar
    Police Scanner
    5-0 Radio Pro
    Scanner Radio
    Speed Trap Plus

    These are just a few apps that do the exact same thing.  There are many more.  All in the app store, and all subvert the law.  ;)  Pretty sure we all know this ain't about law and order though. This is about dollars and cents... and not wanting to lose either one.  Apple is just like a number of other companies dealing with the China/HK issue.  They have all had to make fiduciary decisions that are at cross purposes with their social stances.  
    edited October 10 svanstrombigtdstyler82GG1StrangeDayschemengin1
  • Reply 19 of 69
    svanstrom said:
    Thanks to AppleInsider for linking to the live version. 

    This raises the question whether installing web apps shouldn’t be easier; just like how a website can link to their AppStore app in a way that Safari recognizes it?
    Arguably it's about the same difficulty to install a PWA (the term for online or offline web apps). Since the whole process is just four taps: Once on the link to visit the PWA, once on the share sheet, once to 'add to the homescreen' and finally once to accept the name and icon. I doubt they'll get App-style header banners anytime soon because Apple has a wholly hands-off approach to PWAs, plus developers can already do this manually. (Plenty of sites direct users to install the web app version.)
    Just call it a web app, no need to go all "the term for…" and insist on an abbreviation for a technical term for a particular type of web apps. It just makes the whole thing less approachable/easy to understand by most people. It's just apps, web apps, and websites. The rest is nerd particulars that most people shouldn't have to know a thing about.
  • Reply 20 of 69
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,267member
    gatorguy said:
    That's a smart -- and ethical -- move by Apple.   Law and order is good and should not be subverted.
    https://twitter.com/Pinboard/status/1181790993705660416

    What law was subverted?

    ...
    The one that says you aren't allowed to aid and abet those who attack innocent civilians, destroy property both public & private, attack police and throw Molotov cocktails at them.   That law.
    You can be so absolutely silly.

    The app does not endorse Molotov tossing. Some protesters may be acting illegally, but tell us good sir what law the app was breaking? Then explain why you believe Quartz should be muzzled for reporting on those Hong Kong demonstrations, especially the violent ones which citizens should be aware of. The two actions are related so both are breaking the same laws, right? 

    Unreasonably obstinate doesn't look good on you. Is "unflattering to the government" a law and order issue too? Would you tolerate the same in your native country, or raise your voice in protest and risk the governments ire? I already know that answer. 

    https://daringfireball.net/
    edited October 10 bigtdsStrangeDaysben20chemengin1
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