World

Apple pulls tracking app used by HK protesters

HONG KONG : Apple yesterday removed an app criticised by China for allowing protesters in Hong Kong to track police.

The tech giant's pulling of HKmap.live was blasted as bowing to China and comes as high-profile brands, including the NBA and its Houston Rockets franchise, come under pressure from communist authorities.

Chinese state media this week tore into the app, which collates information on police locations submitted by users, charging that it was helping "rioters".

Communist Party mouthpiece The People's Daily said by stocking the app, Apple was "mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts".

Yesterday, the app was no longer available on Apple's Hong Kong App Store.

"We have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police," said a notification sent by Apple and published on the HKmap.live's Telegram channel, which has more than 70,000 subscribers.

"Criminals have used it to victimise residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement," it continued.

HKmap.live's makers denied their app encouraged criminal activity, and lashed out at Apple's removal as "censorship" and "clearly a political decision to suppress freedom".

The online and Android versions of HKmap.live were still available.

Hong Kongers took to social media to protest the removal.

Apple's decision also comes after the tech giant earlier this week removed the Taiwan flag emoji from its iOS 13 update for users in Hong Kong and Macau. - AFP

Technology