The protests in Hong Kong continue, but the protestors who made use of an iPhone app that helped them locate safe places to assemble found themselves at a disadvantage after Apple removed it from the App Store.
Hong Kong still sees regular pro-democracy protests, and as with any modern protest — technology is being heavily used against protestors. Authorities use it to censor the protestors’ efforts, as well as to increase confusion by spreading misinformation about them. This time, however, protestors found a way to fight back by using the tech of their own, including an application called HKmap live.
HKmap live is an application that shows information about police and protestor activity in real-time. That way, protestors know where they can assemble, which areas are safe, and where they can expect a violent response from the local police.
Initially, the map was only available via web browsers. However, its developers also wanted to create a fully fleshed-out application. Unfortunately, Apple did not support its effort, and the app got rejected from the app store only a few days ago. App’s developers explained that the reason for the rejection of the app — according to Apple — is that it provided illegal content, such as evading law enforcement.
"Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement."@Apple assume our user are lawbreakers and therefore evading law enforcement, which is clearly not the case.
— HKmap.live 全港抗爭即時地圖 HK Protest Live Map (@hkmaplive) October 1, 2019
However, many have compared HKmap live to Waze, stating that Apple should also ban this app, as well, since it allows people to know where to expect traffic cameras and avoid getting caught speeding, and alike. Others also criticized Apple for this decision, as it endangers the protestors, and it seems unreasonable.
This is also not the first time that the company was accused of helping authorities with enforcing censorship, or human rights abuse. Another highly controversial move was when Apple removed all VPN applications from China’s version of the App Store.
The situation took a turn after a powerful backlash, which resulted in Apple allowing the app to appear in the store after all. The app’s developers still believe that Apple’s reasons are bureaucratic, rather than political, and they are pleased with the result.
What do you think about Apple’s decision to reject the app? Do you believe that the company was right to do so? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Images are courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock.