back to article In a touching show of solidarity with the NBA and Blizzard, Apple completely caves to China on HK protest app

Apple has once again taken down an iOS app aimed at helping Hong Kong protesters avoid police crackdowns in the troubled city. The Cupertino idiot-tax racket on Thursday removed HKMap.live from the App Store, just days after re-approving the app. HKmap lets users track police activity and pinpoints pro-democracy protests …

  1. DougS Silver badge

    Google too

    They removed a game from the play store that lets you simulate the experience of being a protestor in Hong Kong. And they don't even have much of a market in China to protect, since no one uses the Play Store there anyway.

    I think between Hollywood, the gaming industry, Apple, Google, and the NBA we can safely say just about every company that does any business in or related to China is being influenced / led around by the nose by China.

    I'm sure Facebook and Amazon would be added to that list, if there weren't local alternatives to both meaning they have zero presence in China and zero chance of ever having any presence there.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Google too

      Don't forget Apple's non chinese user base which is also contributing to the Chinese request by continuing to use their products...

      How long will it be before the Chinese Government decides on all that we buy, use and love.. How long before Google "only" display's publicity for Chinese made products which have been pre-validated by the the almighty Pooh..

      This is a very slippery slope and it feels like were already half way down...

      1. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

        Re: Slippery slope

        We're already half way down indeed, and going fast and gaining speed.

        FWIW Google do a good job remaining invisible on divisive topics (like for example Facebook getting all the flak for privacy intrusion) but they are still there and still doing business - there is no reason to believe they are any good when it comes to China.

    2. AK565

      Re: Google too

      So of Apple and Google are crossed off the list, the alternative for a cell phone buyer is... ???

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Google too

        Microsoft!

        (Or it would be if they hadn't closed their phone division. Pesky reality, getting in the way of my jokes)

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Google too

        "So of Apple and Google are crossed off the list, the alternative for a cell phone buyer is... ???"

        I hear the Chinese make some quite good phones.

      3. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Google too

        'So of Apple and Google are crossed off the list, the alternative for a cell phone buyer is'

        A fairphone for example..

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google too

        Kai OS

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Google too

      Facebook probably sponsor the Chinese police. Amazon probably sell them the tear gas, "Hey it looks like you are buying tear gas, would you like to add bullets to that order as well?"

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google too

      The Google one was because it was a game profiting off a current disaster. Quite different than what Apple is doing.

      Google still sucks, but this isn't an example of that.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Google too

        Only if you believe Google's lame excuse. The WSJ reported that Google dropped it after a call from the Hong Kong police.

  2. Ian 55

    Apple, Google, NBA, Blizzard

    Shame, shame, shame, shame.

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge

      Re: Apple, Google, NBA, Blizzard

      freedom of anything v Chinese money :o(

  3. IGotOut

    A genuine question.

    Would the UK allow such an app? We know how pissy they get about photographing things, playing repetitive beats and, well just hanging out with your friends (worse, if you happen to be a teenager)

    1. HmYiss

      Re: A genuine question.

      Repetitive beats as opposed to.. random beats?

      Isn't that someone just occasionally hitting a drum?

      The peons must respect privacy and peace - so yes, you're in the wrong place.

      1. IGotOut

        Re: A genuine question.

        You must be under forty, not from the UK or lived under a rock.

        https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/63

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A genuine question.

          I take it you are in full support of people who "cause serious distress to the inhabitants of the locality" or "are trespassing on the land" then.

          Or did you not read the legislation and just assumed what it was about?

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: A genuine question.

            The irksome cause of most people's ire was Section 63 (1) (b) and similar references to "music":

            63 (1) (b) “music” includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.

            This in essence sought to criminalise rave/dance music, hence the law becoming charaterised as NRB (No Repetitive Beats).

            The trespass and noise limitation aspects were perfectly acceptable to most people.

        2. BigSLitleP Silver badge

          Re: A genuine question.

          How may times does it get enforced? When a bunch of crusties (thank you for bringing that back in to our language!) decide to invade a farm at 3am to play (sometimes good music but that makes me sound too reasonable) crap music at a volume loud enough to rattle windows on the other side of a valley?

          Seriously, downvote as much as you like. This law doesn't get enforced unless it's actually necessary. If you've made it necessary, then it sucks to be you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A genuine question.

      Are you trying to compare a rave party to HK protesters?

      If yo can't see the difference, your brain has been evidently damaged by some rave parties.

  4. el kabong Silver badge

    Please help Chinese citizens stay safe from harmful uncensored information and freedom

    Keep buying apple, with your help and apple's help the party will make sure no Chinese citizen gets harmed by exposure to uncensored information or by harmful and useless freedom.

  5. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Apple made roughly $3bn per month in revenues from China.

    Yup, that's a good reason enough (to cave it to China's demands).

    1. TVU

      "Apple made roughly $3bn per month in revenues from China"

      ...and that's why Cupertino puts kerching! ahead of ethics every time although they're not the only entity to do this (here's looking at you Blizzard, Google & NBA).

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        You also forgot...

        They make everything save the software and mac pro in China too. If the Chinese government told apple to take a hike and that it was banned from being manufactured in China they wouldn't be able to move production elsewhere quick enough for it not make a huge crater in their funds.

  6. David 132 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So courageous.

    1. el kabong Silver badge

      It takes tremendous courage, you can trust Apple to do the right thing no matter who they hurt

      That takes guts, very brave indeed

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Coat

      RE: David 132

      Apple removed a feature that quite literally could have been "revolutionary"...Isn't that the opposite of what they usually preach?

  7. kmedcalf

    You chose your bed

    Now lie in it.

  8. bjr

    Has anyone asked Tim Cook why he's covered with blood and honey?

    Has anyone asked Tim Cook why he's covered with blood and honey?

  9. HatHatHatHatHat

    Fanbois not give a $hit

  10. The Dogs Meevonks

    China has been heavily investing in games/movies/sports/media for years... to achieve this exact result. They've got companies all over the world too afraid to say anything critical of the atrocities being committed in China.

    Everyone has a different trigger that makes then sit up and take notice... so whilst many people will disagree that it's just hot air over a silly game. At least it's highlighting the plight of those being oppressed, murdered having their culture/religion eradicated through brainwashing and their organs harvested for sale by the state.

    This is a tech site and we're all guilty of standing by and doing nothing... we're all posting comments on devices made there and helping to fund these atrocities.

    I wish I had an answer, I wish I could sit here and say I'm not supporting that regime... But all I can really do is say I stand with HK in spirit and wish them well in their endeavour for freedoms and human rights... and I'll try to do better.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      China has been heavily investing in games/movies/sports/media/politicians for years

      FTFY

  11. Garymrrsn
    Unhappy

    Things might be different if there was a big enough oil reserve under Hong Kong. Unfortunately the only thing they have a lot of is people and in today's market people just aren't very valuable.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      If there were oil reserves we would hardly have given it back to the foreigners would we?

      1. joeW Silver badge

        If there were oil reserves, I doubt the Chinese would have waited for you to hand it back.

    2. TVU

      "Things might be different if there was a big enough oil reserve under Hong Kong. Unfortunately the only thing they have a lot of is people and in today's market people just aren't very valuable"

      ^ That's a very valid point. When Hong Kong was handed over in 1997, it was a huge economic asset but since mainland China has itself undergone massive economic development, Hong Kong is not now the essential financial and trading resource that it once was.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Hong Kong was a banking center offshore of a massive growing economy.

        It had a 'light touch regulation' when it came to money laundering and tax evasion

        It had lots of intelligent hard working educated people

        ... Post B word we will have a banking center with no regulation offshore of a large economy in recession staffed by a bunch of Eton wkrs that just got kicked out of government

        Well, In the words of meatloaf, 1 out of 3 ain't bad

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If Hong Kong isn't a significant economic asset, I would question why Chinese politicians are in such a rush to impose their rules onto it rather than abiding by existing treaties that "outsource" control until 2047. The buildup of Chinese cities of trading powerhouses has come about because of Hong Kong's ability to act as a financial gateway between China and the rest of the world. If that changes, both Hong Kong and China will suffer economically.

        The reality is China knows that Hong Kong will not be the same strategic economic asset it is now at the point it is handed over in 2047 - any peoples/companies/money that can afford to relocate will have moved elsewhere, leaving China with just a little more land and a population that have to adjust from a HK standard of living to a Chinese standard of living.

        If China can act faster, the current regime can plunder some of those resources for themselves as companies won't be able to get everything out in time. And once fully locked into China, the options will be to walk away or have it taken from you.

  12. LDS Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "credible information from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau"

    For the Chinese government meaning of "credible"...

  13. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    I'm sure the Chinese bots are lurking here

    One can acquire a surprisingly large number of down votes ihere f you happen to criticise any of these companies or China.

    1. TVU

      Re: I'm sure the Chinese bots are lurking here

      "One can acquire a surprisingly large number of down votes ihere f you happen to criticise any of these companies or China"

      Stooges, stooges everywhere!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm sure the Chinese bots are lurking here

      That China is an awful country in many respects doesn't make the HK protesters and their tactics right.

      I am also wondering how people would have reacted if Iraqis were to have had such an app which let them track American and British forces.

      Or if wannabe migrants had an app which let them track American border forces.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: I'm sure the Chinese bots are lurking here

        Overall, I'd be perfectly happy with those groups using such an app to avoid government-sanctioned violence against themselves. There is no moral legitimacy in any of the government actions you bring up, so people are allowed to defend themselves.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints

    it would be interesting to see apple reaction if similar app were to be available for london protests. And, disregarding apples hypocrisy, I wonder if it were actually illegal to provide constantly mapping of police movement in the UK? After all, as long as it's public information, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, non? Which obviously clashes with reality, aka "do as as say, don't do as I do". And it'd be probably easy to go after such apps under the excuse of "helping and abetting an illegal demonstration...".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints

      Wonder if they would do the same if an Extinction Rebellion app came out.

      Interesting how that group doesn't go where some of the worst pollution in the world exists.

  15. PhilipN Silver badge

    Think of the lawyers

    If Apple et al may be even remotely likely to be held liable for conspiracy* they would be the target of massive lawsuits back home.

    *Only needs one “proven” (I.e. in a civil case better then 50-50) instance of violence deriving from the use of the app - now they know what it could be used for - to found a claim.

  16. Psychomech

    Is it just me, or does Tim Cook look exactly like Paul O'Grady? :/

    1. MJI Silver badge

      No he IS Paul

      1. maffski

        o/t

        I wish he'd bring back Lily Savage for one of the keynotes, they're getting very dry.

  17. PickledAardvark

    Going head to head with someone with whom you disagree

    It is easy for Apple to go head to head with Facebook or Google about creepy data collection; Apple collects less personal data about users and has owned up when it fails to meet its own standards. Apple isn't perfect but it is more trustworthy than Facebook or Google when it comes to personal data. It is slightly harder for Apple to challenge democratic governments about encryption backdoors or device unlocking. Apple are still the most stubborn big co when it comes to device privacy.

    Apple is in a complete pickle however when dealing with China in political matters. The company has a lot of cash stuck in China. Apple, like many other electronics firms, is dependent on China for assembly and, to a lesser extent, component manufacture. Apple, and others like it, cannot afford to play the same games with the Chinese government that they play in democratic countries. No big tech firm has said NO to Beijing all of the time. All big companies have compromised their ethics in order to stay in business in China.

    i suspect that some of the big firms are working out how to reduce their reliance on China. Others might be determining how to put an ethical face on their Chinese business. Getting the business out slowly, widening supply and manufacture chains, makes sense to me. Getting the money out of China's banks may be more problematic...

  18. MJI Silver badge

    Paul O'Grady

    Why do you use a picture of him?

  19. DJ
    Holmes

    Take a moment to remember

    Business exist to make money, not to make the world a better place.

    (That's what politicians are for, after all.)

    Bearing this in mind helps (me, anyway) enjoy the spectacle of the ethical gymnastics they go through whilst attempting to appease all parties.

  20. Andy Tunnah

    Lemme just pop my tinfoil hat on and...

    OK so

    > that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.

    This line made me more suspicious than usual. I had a very tinfoil-flavoured thought on the matter. What if, realising the bad publicity this would cause, Apple and the Chinese police/army (same thing really at this point) came to an agreement wherein they would stage incidents to warrant the removal of the app. Apple looks like they're protecting cops, China has "examples" of HK citizenry attacking police, which could be then further spun into action against HK protesters.

    I'll admit it's a bit out there, but considering how many tricks China is pulling with planting protesters and instigating situations to soften the impact of their violent responses. Hell, at the moment are there even any actual HK citizens in the HK police ? Because it sure seems like the current crop of HK "police" seem very..army'ish

    1. razorfishsl

      Re: Lemme just pop my tinfoil hat on and...

      You are talking about a subject you know NOTHING about......

      When you are in the thick of it and you see people you know being attacked by protesters, THEN and only then are you in a position to talk about it.

      What really makes me laugh is all these so called "protestors" & their supporters would be wetting their pants if the police withdrew their support for the general public.

      I have personally seen these protestors organize, distribute weapons and equipment in the back streets and i have personally seen "command" centers they have setup.... and i have pictures of some of their organizers without their masks and also of the private & public property they have smashed up.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

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