Apple has removed an app from the App Store called HKmap Live. The app allowed anyone using it to track both protesters and police movements around Hong Kong. The developers of the app tweeted about its removal by Apple a few days ago, although it’s only received wide notice today.
"Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement."@Apple assume our user are lawbreakers and therefore evading law enforcement, which is clearly not the case.
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 1, 2019
What’s interesting, but may be entirely coincidental, is Apple appears to have removed the app from the App Store on October 1, the same day police in Hong Kong shot a protester in the chest. It’s unknown if Chinese or Hong Kong authorities specifically asked Apple to remove HKmap Live or if Apple did so under its own volition.
In a subsequent tweet, the makers of the app say that they suspect Apple’s decision is “more a bureaucratic f up than censorship,” suggesting Apple has misunderstood the purpose of the HKmap Live app. We’ve reached out for comment from Apple about its removal.
Though the app has been removed from the App Store, anyone can still access the web-based version of HKmap Live here.
This is getting way more feedback than I expected. To make it clear, I still believe this is more a bureaucratic f up than censorship.
Everything can be used for illegal purpose on the wrong hand. Our App is for info, and we do not encourage illegal activity.
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 2, 2019