Apple CEO Tim Cook defends removal of Hong Kong police activity tracking app in memo to employees

Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the removal of Hong Kong police activity tracking app HKmap.live in a memo to employees.

Here is Apple CEO Tim Cook’s memo to employees, verbatim:

Team,

You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live. These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. It’s out of my great respect for the work you do every day that I want to share the way we went about making this decision.

It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm.

We built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for every user. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and it’s one that we aim to preserve. National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.

– Tim

MacDailyNews Take: And there you have it.

Hongkongers, the HKmap 即時地圖 app is not a requirement for accessing the HKmap Live service as it remains available online here: https://hkmap.live

25 Comments

    1. Gary,

      Alter the circumstances slightly. The Portland Police Department contacts Apple concerning a “Find My Cop” app that uses crowdsourcing to locate and identify their officers. Credible information (independently confirmed by multiple sources) shows that the app has been used by Antifa protesters to locate isolated officers and subject them to attack, as well as to identify businesses known locally to belong to Republicans that can be safely vandalized because there are no police nearby. Would you be surprised if the PPD asked Apple to take the app down or shocked if Apple complied?

      In considering your answer, remember that PPD is limited to retaliate for an Apple refusal only by taking action against the corporation in the US courts, while the Chinese government can be considerably more “creative” against Apple assets and employees.

  1. Translation:

    Team,

    So, this is the official line when dealing with China-mandated censorship. Just use the “customer safety” angle because I don’t want to give back any of my free speech or human rights awards or relinquish any of my lucrative board seats on those free speech and human rights think tanks.

    — Timmy the Spineless Wonder

    1. That’s 100% fine..But Cook needs to STFU when bellyaching about human rights and all this other fake ass virtue signalling BS when he himself bends to the almighty dollar when it comes actually protecting people. He chooses to just criticize the most free country on the planet but yet doesn’t say jack squat when people are actually being killed and their rights trampled because it effects his wallet. True colors are truly being revealed this week!

  2. I use Photoshoppe to create Hallmarke cards for birth announcements, at the request of new parents.

    My brother uses Photoshoppe to create gruesome images of despised politicians with the hope to propel some to actual violence.

    My dad has written Abobe demanding cancellation of the app, or that certain tools be throttled. My mother has chimed in saying, the app is not the problem, but our son choosing to use it for perverted purpose. (She really dislikes sappy images).

  3. china needs to be broken up into little china pieces so each can steal from each other, bully and threaten each other, spy upon one another, lie to one another and each can build their own south china sea island and each can claim a piece of taiwan and a piece of hong kong and a piece of tibet and each can have their own little tiananmen square and each their own denial that it really happened the way the world says it happened.

  4. People don’t seem to read Apples explanation at all. Apple is saying that many Apple users are saying the App is being used by criminals to target areas (i.e rob etc) where there is no police. Not everything is just about ‘fighting communism’.

    BTW just yesterday i had. long chat with a Hong Kong resident in Japan where I am now. Also btw there are mainland Chinese all over the hotel and they seem to get along with the HK and Taiwanese. I’ve been to both HK and Taiwan. Am heading to Singapore which is also mainly Chinese. For several years my brother was a tech manager in China.

    Apple and Tim Cook has brought more in improving Chinese labour conditions, bringing in new ideas of social justice and addressing issues like clean green energy (Apple has big solar farms in China) than any corporation.

    1. Upon further thought…
      If Cook is right, did he just assume responsibility for any crimes that involved use of iPhones and iPads?

      Normally, free people, the users, bear the responsibility. But heck… if Apple let’s them..l

  5. Well if we had a bit of Globalism the we could solve this problem. In a global world China wouldn’t be able to get away with this. The global community and all that. TPP. Paris accords.

    Oh wait. Everyone has spent years railing against that sort of thing. So, when an independent country chooses to enforce its laws, suddenly the whiners, including MDN choose to whine and snivel.

    1. Logic alert: You use “independent country” in the course of siding with “globalism,” and it makes me chuckle, w/o humor. Do you appreciate the freedom and sovereignty engrained in DNA of America? Let me presume, “yes.” If so, say good-bye to the assumption when the global community, that includes, countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other thugs in Africa, want to “vote” in contrast to the aforementioned DNA.

      Say goodbye to sovereignty and the many excellent things related.

      It’s not just naive, it’s dumbaxe thinking..

    1. “HK is an open society from my understanding. What if this app is used in US and people use it against police and attack civilians? Will it be pull down as well?”

      Great question. Our ideas about freedom of speech and the press were conceived hundreds of years ago when communication was vastly slower and had limited access to large numbers of people.

      What if people used a certain FB page or Twitter account to track the police? Could you shutdown FB and Twitter? What if they used some sort of off-shore web server and a custom web page? Could they shut down the internet for a while?

      On the other hand, if they leave the tools in place and police are killed or injured, is that a better outcome? Is that an acceptable price to pay?

      Or, what if the police find a way to track and identify all cell phones then proceed to start arresting whomever they perceive to be leaders and detaining them without trial? That doesn’t seem so great either.

      1. Well, why not? But to prevent that happen, we need to have good legal system to monitor and control them.
        Another example: I just know all countries are tracking people… we are not that naive anyway. United States even tracked Merkel’s phone since 2002 and later got discovered. Not to mention normal citizens, but we need to see from all these incidents on balancing the use of these tools and don’t let them go offhanded, not by civilians, not by govt, but by refined laws and regulations. As Tim said, IT tools can be used for good or evil but we need to use it properly for the good for all people, I don’t think it is allow if it is used for tracking police and ambush them. I don’t think FBI is going to allow that happen as well.

        1. BTW, is US or Europe, Twitter and FB is ubiquitous, but in HK, Twitter is not that popular and younger generations are subsiding from using FB already (but they use ig) and nearly no one is using them in mainland China bcoz they are banned and they have their own platforms. Even if it got shut down for a while for “national security” purposes, it doesn’t affect much in certain parts of the world.

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