Apple removes HKmap.live app from store over safety concerns

One day after feeling the wrath of China’s state media, Apple has removed the HKmap.live app from its app store – but the tech giant says it is because of safety concerns, not political pressures.

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The app which was designed to avoid the locations of real-time traffic obstructions, police and protesters in Hong Kong, Apple learned it was also putting police and residents potentially in harm’s way.

On Thursday, CEO Tim Cook sent a memo to employees obtained by FOX Business, that explained the app was being used "maliciously to target individual officers for violence" among other nefarious efforts..."

The memo mirrored a statement to FOX Business on Wednesday, in which Apple said, “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.”

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Late Tuesday, the state-run yet influential People’s Daily wrote in a blog that the “developers of the map app had not hidden their malicious motive in providing ‘navigation’ for the rioters’ and that Apple had “betrayed the feelings of the Chinese people” by approving the app.

The political crisis in Hong Kong, which started as an opposition to extradition policies has now become a minefield for American businesses with operations in China.

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Front and center in the situation is the National Basketball Association. With a $4 billion business at stake in China, the league is now struggling to manage the fallout in its fastest-growing international market from a deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that said: “Stand with Hong Kong.”