Tim Cook Explains Why Apple Sold Out Hong Kong Protestors, Doubles Down

Facebook screengrab 林鄭月娥 Carrie Lam

Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown, reporting from Hong Kong, said Saturday's marches drew smaller crowds and were peaceful as compared to a rally last weekend, which spiralled into a night of running battles between protesters and police.

Apple did not respond to Gizmodo overnight but did send Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman a statement confirming the company removed the app because it "violates our guidelines and local laws".

The move came one day after Chinese state media berated the company for aiding Hong Kong protesters by approving the "toxic" app.

Still, some say Apple's decision over the app looks like a rare mis-step for a company that has otherwise adroitly navigated the US-China trade war in the past year. "We once believed the App rejection is simply a bureaucratic f [**k] up, but now it is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human right in #HongKong", the developer concluded.

One of the apps was HKmap.live which has been used by the public to track the police movements.

However, Google said it had found no policy violation by HKmap.live, and confirmed that the tracking app was available on its app store.

"The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement", Apple said.

The company also said the Quartz app was taken down because it didn't comply with Chinese law.

The email was acquired and published first by the app's developers, which Apple later confirmed as authentic to Reuters.


"She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates", said Mr Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas and a vocal critic of China who was stopping in Hong Kong for two days as part of a regional tour.

Responding to a request for details about the scheduled meeting, Ms Lam's office said in an email: "The Chief Executive did not meet with the said U.S. senator".

"You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live", wrote Cook in the beginning. Thursday's removal of the app drew immediate reprimands from Washington.

The protests in Hong Kong began after the government proposed an extradition law.

Netizens wondered about what appears to be Apple's double standards in removing apps and whether the tech giant was just another corporation being pressured into conforming by the Chinese government. CEO Zach Seward denounced "this kind of government censorship of the internet".

"Whilst we may not be able to fight alongside the young protesters in the frontline against an unjust government, escalating police violence and indiscriminate arrests, we take it to heart to uphold the core values of Hong Kong and defend the future of our younger generations", it said in a statement. The metro normally carries around 5 million people a day. Professional Hearthstone player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai was been banned from participating in esports events for the free-to-play card game after calling for Hong Kong's liberation. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

After the bill was cancelled, the protests expanded into a broader pro-democracy push that led to increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters.

Cook's claims are hard to confirm but Pinboard founder and social critic Maciej Cegłowski has been on the ground in Hong Kong for some time, and they found the Apple CEO's remarks to be suspect.

"It sounds like they are being responsible".

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