Apple pulls Hong Kong app following Chinese pressure

Apple pulls Hong Kong app following Chinese pressure
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Apple on Thursday pulled the app that tracked Hong Kong police's location after pressure from China.

The app, called HKmap.live, had assisted protesters in avoiding police engagements and aggressions, like baton charges, tear gas and ID checks, The Associated Press reported. Its removal has sparked disapproval of Apple among Hong Kong protesters and residents.

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Apple in a statement obtained by the AP said the app "has been used to target and ambush police" and "threaten public safety."

“Criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” Apple said. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

Those who have already downloaded the app still have access to it, AP reported. Protesters also use the encrypted messaging app Telegram to report police locations.

Protests erupted in Hong Kong, causing massive spats between the police and protesters, after a since-withdrawn proposal would have allowed Hong Kong criminals to be extradited for trial in China.

China began pressuring Apple to get rid of the app Wednesday, days after the country became locked in a dispute with the NBA over a general manager's tweets in support of Hong Kong. China makes up Apple's second-largest market, according to the AP.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company's decision, saying it was based off "credible information," and that the app violated Hong Kong law.

“It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different,” Cook wrote.

The Hill has reached out to Apple for further comment.

—Updated at 4:29 p.m.