What you need to know

  • Apple has removed HKmap.Live from its App Store.
  • Apple claims "this app violates our guidelines and loval laws". .
  • News comes hours after it emerged Apple had removed news app Quartz from the Chinese App Store at the request of the Chinese government.

Reports overnight have confirmed that Apple has removed the controversial mapping app HKmap.Live from its App Store, over concerns that it violates Apple's guidelines and local laws. News via The Verge claims that the app was removed because of Apple's concerns about the impact of the app on public safety. As per the report, a statement from Apple notes:

We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. 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. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.

HKmap.Live could be used by Hong Kong residents to see the location of police, street closures and protest incidents across the city.

The delovoper of the app took to Twitter denouncing the claims, arguing:

"There is 0 evidence to support CSTCB's accusation that HKmap 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.

In a lengthy Twitter thread the developer also claimed that the majority of user reviews of the app suggested that it had improved, rather than endangered public safety. It also claimed that their moderators would delete any content that solicited or promoted criminal activity.

The news comes as the latest chapter in a saga dogged with controversy. Apple had previously come under fire for refusing to allow the app to be added to the app store, rejecting it before it was ever released. Apple re-reviewed the app and allowed it to be published shortly after. Yesterday the Chinese state newspaper People's Daily launched a scathing attack on Apple, openly condemning its decision to allow the app to be published, describing the move as "a betrayal of Chinese people's feelings".

Perhaps more controversially, shortly before this story broke it emerged that Apple had reportedly removed news app Quartz from the Chinese App Store at the request of the Chinese government, at least according to Quartz. According to John Keefe, Investigations Editor at Quartz: "Our excellent @qz coverage of ongoing Hong Kong protests may be the reason."

Certainly, it seems that the saga Apple finds itself embroiled in has not yet come to an end.