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.
"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
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.
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
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: https://hkmap.live