Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent employees an email with a more detailed explanation of why the company chose to remove HKmap.live from the App Store yesterday. Similar to Apple's statement last night, Cook claims that the app – a crowdsourced map tool that has become useful in the midst of ongoing protests in Hong Kong – has been misused in ways that could endanger public security.
"The app in question made crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots and other information possible," Cook wrote. “This information is good in itself. In recent days, however, we received credible information from the Hong Kong Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, and from users in Hong Kong, that the app was maliciously used to attack individual officers for violence and to kill individuals and property. no police is present. & # 39;
You have probably seen the news that we have made the decision to remove an app from the App Store named HKmap.live. These decisions are never easy, and it is even harder to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. It is from my great respect for the work that you do every day that I want to share how we made this decision.
It is no secret that technology can be used well or badly. This case is no different. The app in question made possible crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots and other information. This information is good in itself. In recent days, however, we received credible information from the Hong Kong Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, and from users in Hong Kong, that the app was maliciously used to attack individual officers for violence and to kill individuals and property. no police is present. Because of this use, the app is in violation of the Hong Kong Act. Similarly, widespread abuse is clearly in violation of our App Store guidelines that limit personal injury.
We have built the App Store as a safe and trusted place for every user. It is a responsibility that we take very seriously and that we want to keep. National and international debates will survive us all, and while important, they do not determine the facts. In this case, we have thoroughly reviewed them and believe that this decision protects our users best.
Cook & # 39; s email does not provide details about these incidents where HKmap.live would have been used to target individual police officers. It is an alarming scenario, just like the idea that people would unnecessarily use the map app to attack areas with little police presence. But it is mostly state media in China that have pushed these terrifying reports to date.
The developers of HKmap.live have pushed back against Apple's claims and have repeated that the app collects and consolidates information from users, news sources and social networks such as Facebook and Telegram. HKmap.live never gives one lack of police on the map, only areas where they met.
5. Most of the content is user-generated and we allow users to vote down for moderator review. Moderator removes content that "encourages, promotes or encourages criminal activity". Repeated attempt is banned.
– HKmap.live 全港 抗爭 即時 地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 10, 2019
Apple's decision has been fiercely criticized (including from legislators), but Cook's e-mail offers no sign that the company is reconsidering. Initially, HKmap.live was removed from the App Store earlier this month to say the removal was a mistake. But after recovering briefly, Apple pulled the app down again last night and offered the reasoning that Cook has now doubled – without giving examples of illegal incidents that HKmap.live helped.
From now on, the app will continue to work for people who have already installed it on their iPhones, but it cannot be downloaded again from Apple.