Home Technology Apple CEO Tim Cook defends removal of Hong Kong mapping app in...

Apple CEO Tim Cook defends removal of Hong Kong mapping app in email to employees

Apple CEO Tim Cook has despatched an e mail to staff with a lengthier clarification for why the corporate selected to take away HKmap.reside from the App Store yesterday. Similar to Apple’s assertion final night time, Cook claims that the app — a crowdsourced mapping instrument that’s turn into helpful amid the continuing protests in Hong Kong — was being misused in ways in which may threaten public security.

“The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information,” Cook wrote. “On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.”

Cook’s full e mail is under. It was initially published by HKmap.live’s developers, and Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has vouched for its authenticity.


You have doubtless seen the information that we made the choice to take away an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.reside. These selections are by no means simple, and it’s tougher nonetheless to debate these matters throughout moments of livid public debate. It’s out of my nice respect for the work you do day-after-day that I need to share the best way we went about making this resolution.

It is not any secret that know-how can be utilized for good or for in poor health. This case is not any totally different. The app in query allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and different info. On its personal, this info is benign. However, over the previous a number of days we acquired credible info, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, in addition to from customers in Hong Kong, that the app was getting used maliciously to focus on particular person officers for violence and to victimize people and property the place no police are current. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong legislation. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store tips barring private hurt.

We constructed the App Store to be a protected and trusted place for each consumer. It’s a accountability that we take very significantly, and it’s one which we intention to protect. National and worldwide debates will outlive us all, and, whereas necessary, they don’t govern the details. In this case, we totally reviewed them, and we imagine this resolution finest protects our customers.


Cook’s e mail doesn’t supply any specifics on these incidents the place HKmap.reside was supposedly used to focus on particular person cops. It’s an alarming state of affairs, as is the concept individuals would use the mapping app nefariously to pounce on areas with low police presence. But it’s largely been state-run media in China pushing these scary stories to date.

HKmap.reside’s builders have pushed again towards Apple’s claims and reiterated that the app aggregates and consolidates info from customers, information sources, and social networks like Facebook and Telegram. HKmap.reside by no means shows a lack of police on its map, solely areas the place they’ve congregated.

5. Most of the contents are user-generated, and we enable customers to down vote for moderator assessment. Moderator will delete contents that “solicit, promote, or encourage criminal activity”. Repeated try will probably be banned.

— HKmap.reside 全港抗爭即時地圖 (@hkmaplive) October 10, 2019

Apple’s resolution has been met with harsh criticism (together with from lawmakers), however Cook’s e mail doesn’t supply any signal that the corporate is reconsidering. It initially pulled HKmap.reside from the App Store earlier this month solely to say that the removing was a mistake. But after briefly restoring it, Apple pulled down the app once more final night time and provided the reasoning that Cook has now doubled down — with out offering any examples of illegal incidents that HKmap.reside has helped facilitate.

As of now, the app continues to perform for individuals who have already got it put in on their iPhones, nevertheless it can’t be redownloaded from Apple.

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