Apple pulls Hong Kong police tracking app from App Store, calling it ‘illegal’

Kieren McCarthy for The Register:

Apple has banned an app that allows people in Hong Kong to keep track of protests and police activity in the city state, claiming such information is illegal.

The makers, and many others, have taken exception to that argument, by pointing out that the app only allows people to note locations – as many countless thousands of other apps do – and so under the same logic, apps such as driving app Waze should also be banned… Under the law, the Hong Kong police are obliged to wave a blue flag at the spot in which they which to declare that an illegal gathering is taking place. The intent is to give citizens sufficient notice and time to move away from the area before any police action is taken. The HKmap Live app simply takes that official approach and extends it…

It is far from clear whether Apple has undertaken that kind of legal review, or whether it is choosing to follow local law or US law in declaring the app illegal. Apple has also, so far, refused to say whether it took the decision to ban the app in response to a request from the Chinese authorities, but in the past has show a remarkable willingness to kowtow to Middle Kingdom mandarins.

MacDailyNews Take: We expect Apple will issue a clarifying statement if this news spreads widely enough.

Not every country offers the same rights, privacy protections, or has the same laws as others. In the past, Apple has explained such App Store bans thusly:

We follow the law wherever we do business.Apple CEO Tim Cook, August 1, 2017

Apple’s “ban” is toothless as the HKmap Live service remains available online here:


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