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Apple pulls HKmap.live from app store

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News organisation Quartz said also its mobile app was removed from the Chinese version of the App Store after complaints from the Chinese government.

Apple kicked up a firestorm on Wednesday when it chose to boot a mapping app called HKmap.live that protestors in Hong Kong have been using to keep tabs on police from the App Store.

Quartzt has been covering the protests in Hong Kong for months, including information on how readers can get around government censorship by using VPNs, or virtual private networks.

With real-time updates showing police movements, it helps steer users away from possible baton charges, volleys of tear gas and police ID checks.

Chinese Communist Party publication The People's Daily said by stocking the app, Apple was "mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts".

But Hong Kong's protests have been fuelled by resentment of what many residents see as relentless efforts by Beijing to exert control over their city, despite the promises of autonomy.

On Thursday, Apple removed the smartphone app HKmap.live from its online store.

A number of companies have drawn the ire of Chinese officials over the long-running Hong Kong protests.

Today I wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to tell him his company's decision to remove HKmap live app from Appstore will cause problems for normal Hong Kong's citizens trying to avoid police presence while they are under constant fear ofpolice brutality.

The city's once-respected police force has become the target of anger over what demonstrators say is excessive violence, that has included the use of live rounds to quell unrest. "We have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police", it said.

Apple's reversal came after the Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper criticized Apple for letting the software through.

The app consolidated content from public posts on social networks and that moderators would delete content that solicited criminal activity and would ban repeated attempts to post such content in the app, it said.

HKmap.live is "quite useful", she said.

Neither China's foreign ministry nor the information office of the State Council had an immediate comment when asked about the HKmap.live app removal.

The demonstrations that started over now-shelved extradition bill in March have turned into weekly riots with radical groups of protesters vandalizing properties, beating people for supporting Beijing and attacking police.

Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets, tweeted his support of the protesters, resulting in a massive backlash in the lucrative Chinese market.

But Simon Young, associate dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, said Apple seemed to have a case, given the circumstances.

Greater China is Apple's third-largest region for sales after the U.S. and Europe, with the firm reporting $9.1 billion in sales during the three months to the end of June.

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