The scandal of American businesses kowtowing to China on free speech over the protests in Hong Kong continues.
Apple has now removed multiple apps/emojis after China expressed its displeasure with them.
The latest app removed came last night, according to The Verge.
Apple removed the app for HKMap.live, a crowdsourced map that allows Hong Kongers to see where police and street closures were in Hong Kong. Apple previously rejected the app, but then relented. Now they’ve pulled it again.
Here’s their argument:
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.
The developers dispute that.
“There is 0 evidence to support CSTCB’s accusation,” the HKmap developers said in response. “HKmap App never solicits, promotes, or encourages criminal activity. HKmap App consolidates information from user and public sources, e.g. live news stream, Facebook and Telegram.”
But Apple pulled the app one day after the China Daily, a media arm of the Chinese Communist Party, blasted them for running with it, saying it was “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people” and that Apple was “mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.”
While the app has been pulled, you can still access the map for the moment on an iPhone.
But in case you were inclined to give Apple the benefit of the doubt and accept their argument that it was just about public safety, there’s more.
They also dumped their app for the news outlet, Quartz, after complaints by China.
From The Verge:
According to Quartz, this is due to the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong protests, and the company says its entire website has also been blocked from being accessed in mainland China.
The publication says it received a notice from Apple that the app “includes content that is illegal in China.”
Apple has even gone as far this week as to remove its Taiwan flag emoji from view in the emoji keyboard selection that can be seen in Hong Kong and Macau at the request of the Chinese government, according to The Verge.
Why is an American company so willing to toady to China? Because of all their business interests tied to China. Almost 20% of its market comes from China. Its supply chain is based out of China. It’s an American company but it’s exceedingly dependent on China. This isn’t the first time that they’ve caved to China and it likely wouldn’t be the last.
Kowtowgate needs to be called out loudly as the scandal it truly is.
Removing an app that helps protesters avoid problems with the Communist-controlled police is not in the interests of public safety. Removing an app that dares report the truth about what’s going on is not in the interests of public safety. And removing an emoji that denies the truth may soothe the delicate feelings of China. But it does no service to free speech or the truth.