UPDATED 10/10, 10 a.m. ET: The HKmap.live app has now been removed from the App Store. In a statement to CNN, an Apple rep claimed to have verified with local authorities that it was being used to “threaten public safety.”
The app makers, meanwhile, say the removal is merely a “political decision.”
See original story below.
Apple is under fire from the Chinese government for allowing HKmaps, an app that allows pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong to help track police activity, on the iPhone app store, The Guardian reports. State-run media publication China Daily has openly criticized the technology giant, highlighting how the app was previously not allowed before Apple walked back on its decision. China claims the app is "allowing the rioters in Hong Kong to go on violent acts."
HKmaps allows users of the app to report police activity in Hong Kong, warning citizens and protestors alike of road closures and areas of increased police presence. The developer of HKmaps has said that it is not intended to help and encourage "illegal activity," but that hasn't stopped Chinese state media from criticizing Apple.
"Business is business, and politics is politics," the China Daily article reads. "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." Apple has been accused of "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people" with the "toxic app."
Demonstrations in Hong Kong first kicked off after the government attempted to introduce the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill, a proposition that would allow authorities to extradite fugitives to mainland China. The pro-democracy protests have been ongoing since the end of March, but the movement increased by June. The Communist Party of China has implemented extensive censorship in the mainland for decades, and as the protests have continued, the state media has continually referred to the demonstrations as "riots" and "violent."
Apple isn't the only company to receive criticism as the situation in Hong Kong rages on. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey faced backlash in the Chinese market for expressing his support for pro-democracy protestors, putting the NBA in a precarious position. South Park, meanwhile, has been removed from the internet in China after it poked fun at censorship and highlighted the work camps in the country.