Once again, Apple is embroiled in social and political issues. Once again, Apple gives in to pressure from the Chinese government. On this occasion, even Tim Cook has had to come out to explain why the company has removed from its local AppStore, HKMap.live, a collective mapping service widely used among Hong Kong residents.

Why has Apple removed HKMap.live in Hong Kong?

Through a statement addressed to his employees, the renowned CEO of the block tried to explain his reasons for making the controversial decision. Is that Apple removed HKmap.live from the app store, with high download rates during the latest social protests.

Tim Cook claims that HKMap.live has been removed because “the app has been used to attack and ambush police”.

Apparently, users used the service (which works similar to Waze) to mark the positions of riot police, and even to organize the location of the pro-democracy protests that have been repeated this year in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government, which denies Hong Kong’s sovereignty, noticed this form of protest and pointed its guns at Apple to remove the application. And after repeated “requests”, he succeeded.

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But now, Tim Cook -facing his dependents- had no choice but to go out and explain that it was a “necessary” decision:

“We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We learned that one app, HKmap.live, has been used in a way that endangers law enforcement and Hong Kong residents. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately started looking into 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 attack and ambush police, threaten public safety and was used by criminals to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our local guidelines and laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

The developers deny Apple: “HKMap.live does not encourage criminal activity.”

For their part, the app developers disagreed with Apple. “There is zero evidence for such an allegation… The HKmap app never solicits, promotes or encourages criminal activity, but instead consolidates information from users and public sources, eg live news feed, Facebook and Telegram.”

Today, Apple also removed from the Chinese AppStore the application of Quartz, a journalistic outlet that provided strong coverage of the protests in Hong Kong, what will they say now? Is there no freedom of expression here?

Why has Apple removed HKMap.live in Hong Kong?