Apple Backtracks and Removes Hong Kong Protest App

Apple has removed the app from the iOS App Store for a second time (via The Verge). The app helped protestors in Hong Kong find where others were and also locate police.

Hong Kong Map App Removed After Chinese State Criticism

In a statement, Apple said:

We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app,, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. The app displays police locations and 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. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.

The Chinese Communist Party’s described the app as “poisonous” in its official newspaper. A piece in the English language China Daily said:

Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.

Reviews suggested the app “IMPROVED public safety, not the opposite,” accord to a Twitter account from someone purporting to be the Hong Kong protest app’s developer. The account posted a long thread following the removal:

Quartz App Removed From App Store in China

In further controversy, Apple removed the Quartz app from the App Store in China. Again, this purportedly happened as a result of pressure from the Chinese Government. Authorities said the app violated local laws. In a statement given to The Verge, Quartz Chief Executive Zach Seward said:

We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet, and have great coverage of how to get around such bans around the world.

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