Chinese netizens hail Apple’s removal of app that aids HK rioters

By Chen Qingqing in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/10 14:23:45

Photo: A screenshot of Hong Kong police deployment on the app

Following massive backlash from the Chinese mainland, US tech giant Apple on Thursday removed a controversial app that can help Hong Kong rioters track police movements. 

Apple has learned that, an app that can display police locations, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong, the company said in a statement. 

“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,” it said. 

“This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.” 

The app, which crowdsources information about where the Hong Kong police force is deployed during protests, has become a popular real-time map used by street protesters as it enables them to find out precisely where police officers are, where tear gas has been used, and where water cannons are deployed. 

The app, along with its website, marks the positions of police officers with dog emojis – “dogs” being a frequently used term by the protesters to refer to the police. 

Some have suggested the app was designed to help rioters escape law enforcement, and it has sparked massive backlash online as many netizens harshly criticized it for facilitating riot activities.

The removal came a day after the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, published an article asking whether Apple is helping Hong Kong rioters engage in more violence.

Chinese netizens applauded Apple’s decision to remove the app, saying Apple is “finally doing the right thing.” Many hailed that Apple used the term “criminals” to describe rioters in its statement. 
Multinational corporations will risk losing the Chinese market if they meddle with China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  

China Central Television and Tencent Sports ceased NBA broadcasting schedules after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters. Sponsors also severed ties with the NBA, followed by the cancellation of fan events in Shanghai on Wednesday.  

Analysts believe that it is unlikely for Apple to deliberately support Hong Kong rioters, saying that the app may have gained approval from the Apple App Store following technical loopholes in its review process.

“This is another warning shot for Apple, and maybe it’s time to enhance its review process to avoid the occurrence of similar incidents,” Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent industry analyst, told the Global Times. 

“However, as Apple highly values the Chinese market and removing the controversial app is a smart move,” he said. 


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