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Apple drops app that allowed Hong Kong activists to report police movement

Apple Inc. removed a smartphone app that allows Hong Kong activists to report police movements from its online store this afternoon after an official Chinese newspaper accused the company of facilitating illegal behavior.

The company said in a statement that HKmap.live was removed from its store because the app "has been used to target and ambush police" and "threaten public safety." It said that violated local law and Apple guidelines.

Apple became the latest company to come under pressure to take Beijing's side against the demonstrators when the Communist Party's People's Daily said yesterday the app "facilitates illegal behavior." The newspaper asked, "Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?"

HKmap.live allows users to report police locations, use of tear gas and other details that are added to a regularly updated map. Another version is available for smartphones that use the Android operating system.

Protesters hide behind umbrellas as they form a barricade to block a road in Hong Kong. Source: Associated Press

The Hong Kong demonstrations began over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include other grievances and demands for greater democracy.

Criticism of Apple followed government attacks starting last weekend on the National Basketball Association over a comment by the general manager of the Houston Rockets in support of the protesters. China's state TV has canceled broadcasts of NBA games.

A screenshot of app "HKmap.live" that allowed activists to report police movements. Source: Associated Press


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