×

Apple Withdraws Controversial Hong Kong Protest App

Apple has removed from its online stores the controversial HKmap.Live app, which had been used to show the locations of protests and police operations in Hong Kong. The move was made on Thursday, local time, barely a day after Apple had been criticized in mainland Chinese media for hosting the app.

A statement from Apple said that it had been contacted by “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” and that it had begun an investigation. It said the app, which uses crowdsourced information, “had endangered law enforcement and residents.” Apple is understood to have previously rejected the app, but reversed that decision, and began hosting it from Oct. 4.

The anonymous developer of the HKmap.Live app took to the Telegram messaging app on Thursday to post the text of a review by Apple that explained the tech giant’s decision. “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,” it said. The text was also used by Apple in its media statement.

The Reuters news agency said that the app continued to work for users who had previously downloaded it in Hong Kong. A web version was also still viewable on iPhones.

Popular on Variety

Protests in Hong Kong against the local government’s proposed extradition bill began in June, and although the bill has been withdrawn, the protests have broadened into calls for the removal of the territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and for the establishment of representative democracy.

After 18 weeks of stalemate, there have been many outbreaks of violence on the streets of Hong Kong, and discussions of the subject have fueled pro-Beijing and anti-Beijing recriminations.

Businesses have been politicized by both camps. Using state-controlled media, the Chinese government has criticized businesses including the Cathay Pacific airline and MTR, Hong Kong’s subway operator. Both rapidly backtracked. Pro-democracy protesters have called for a boycott of Maxims, the catering giant that operates the Starbucks and Yoshinoya restaurant franchises in Hong Kong, after Annie Wu Suk-ching, the daughter of its founder, labeled protesters as “rioters” at a United Nations conference.

In the past few days, both the U.S.’s National Basketball Association and animated show “South Park” have been drawn into the fray.

More Digital

  • Aaron Pedersen (as Jay) & Jada

    Screen Australia Leads Call for Evolution of Industry Funding

    Screen Australia, the country’s federal support body, says the screen entertainment industry needs to come up with new business models in response to changes in audience behavior and the disruptive impact on content financing that has come from streaming. Public support bodies must change their relationships with the industry too, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason [...]

  • A-ha!

    'A-ha: The Movie' on 'Take on Me' Band to Receive Worldwide Release (EXCLUSIVE)

    A feature documentary on Norwegian “Take On Me” singers A-ha will receive a worldwide release this November. “A-ha: The Movie,” distributed internationally by Esther van Messel’s First Hand Films, will be broadcast in theaters around the world on Nov. 26, with Germany’s Salzgeber releasing the film locally and First Hand Films handling the release in [...]

  • Vudu

    NBCUniversal in Talks to Buy Walmart's Vudu

    Comcast’s NBCUniversal is looking to add some Vudu into its streaming-video mix. The media conglomerate is in talks to buy Vudu, the Walmart-owned entertainment rental, download and free-streaming service, sources confirm to Variety. It’s unclear what the terms of the pact would be or the timing. News of NBCU’s interest in Vudu was first reported [...]

  • Tubi

    Fox in Talks to Acquire Free-Streaming Service Tubi for Over $500 Million (Report)

    Fox Corp. is in discussions about acquiring Tubi, the ad-supported free streaming service, in a deal worth more than $500 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous sources. With Tubi, Rupert Murdoch’s TV broadcasting and cable company would be adding a dedicated streaming component — offering over 20,000 older TV shows and [...]

  • Zombies 2 Disney Channel

    How Disney Channel's 'Zombies 2' Production Team Made Monsters Kid-Friendly

    Traditionally spooky creatures like zombies and werewolves get the Disney treatment in “Zombies 2,” the follow-up to the 2018 hit TV-movie musical of the same name. While the undead have now assimilated into the community of Seabrook, they’re confronted by a new set of outsiders: werewolves. Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly return as Zed and [...]

  • Baby Yoda - The Child Animatronic

    Hasbro's Adorable Baby Yoda Animatronic Toy Is Already Sold Out on Disney's Online Store

    The Force remains strong for toys based on Baby Yoda, the breakout star of Disney Plus original series “The Mandalorian.” Less than a day after becoming available for pre-order, Hasbro’s new $59.99 Baby Yoda animatronic toy is no longer available on Disney’s official online store: As of Friday morning, Shop Disney listed it as “sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content