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HKmap.live Removed from The App Store but The Web Version Still Accessible

A crowdsourced mapping app HKmap.live removed by Apple, broadly utilized by Hong Kong residents, from the App Store. The app and accompanying web service have been used to mark the locations of police and inform about avenue closures through the ongoing pro-democracy protests which have engulfed Hong Kong this year.

Apple initially rejected HKmap.live from the App Store earlier this month, then reversed its decision a few days later.

“There’s no proof to support CSTCB’s accusation,” the HKmap developers stated in response. “HKmap App never solicits, promotes, or encourages criminal activity. HKmap App consolidates info from consumer and public sources, e.g., live information stream, Facebook, and Telegram.”

Yesterday, English-language state media outlet China Daily blasted Apple’s decision to allow HKmap.live onto the App Store. “Offering a gateway for ‘poisonous apps’ is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and towards the views and principles of the Chinese people,” the op-ed argued.

Apple’s enforcement of App Store policies is inconsistent at best, so it’s hard to make its statement at face value. The company hasn’t mentioned which “local laws” HKmap.live might violate. It’s worth pointing out, however, that apps like Waze, which similarly enable users to track the locations of police checkpoints, stay in the App Store elsewhere. Earlier at present, Apple additionally removed the app of news outlet Quartz, which has been providing reliable coverage of the Hong Kong protests, from China’s App Store.

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