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Tim Cook defends removal of app used in Hong Kong protests and is disputed

A few days ago Apple was embroiled in a huge controversy on the other side of the world when it banned, restored and then again banned an app from the Chinese App Store that, according to the country's government, was being used by Protestants in Hong Kong to monitor police action in the territory. The first steps of this story are recorded in this article, but now the controversy has even reached Ma's head.

THE Bloomberg got a memo from Tim cook, distributed to all Apple employees, in which the CEO defended Apple's decision to withdraw the from the App Store. In the text, which had already been partially released last night, Cook states that these choices are β€œnever easy,” but that reliable information indicated that the app was being used to facilitate targeted acts of violence by law enforcement officials that led the company to take off. you from the store.

We translate the full memo below:


You certainly saw the news that we made the decision to remove from the App Store an app called These choices are never easy, and it is even harder to discuss these issues during moments of furious public debate. For the great respect I have for the work you do every day, I want to share the steps we take to make this decision.

It is no news that technology can be used for good and evil and in this case no different. The app in question allowed people to share police presence information, protest locations and other data. By themselves, this information is benign. Over the past few days, however, we have received reliable information from the Hong Kong Cyber ​​Crime and Technology Crime Department and local users, stating that the app was being used maliciously to individually attack police and victimize people and property in places where police are not. I was present. As a result, the app was at odds with Hong Kong law. Similarly, this abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines that prevent the use of apps for personal violence.

We build the App Store to be a safe and reliable place for all users. It is a responsibility that we take very seriously, and something we work to preserve. National and international debates will extend far beyond our lives and, while important, do not dictate the facts. In this case, we carefully analyze the situation, and believe that our decision protects users to the best of our ability.

Apple's attitude, as expected, was praised by Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng shuangHe said recent events in Hong Kong were "extreme acts of violence, which defy the rules of law and order and threaten the safety of local citizens," adding that everyone should oppose such violence rather than support it.

Reactions to Cook's memo, however, were understandably mixed and accompanied by various expressions of contention. One of the most striking came from an anonymous user of, who pointed out misconceptions and incorrect information in the CEO text. You can read the thread whole, published by Pinboard, here; Below we highlight some of the main points.

The first claim was that "the app was being used maliciously to attack individual police officers." That makes no sense at all. The app does not show the location of individual police officers. It shows the overall concentrations of police units, with a significant delay.

The second statement, related first, was that the app helped "victimize people and property in places where the police were not present." Again, does Mr. Cook have any evidence to declare this? The app does not show the absence of the police; It shows police concentrations, tear gas, protest flags, etc.

Mr. Cook says the app is in violation of Hong Kong law, but neither he nor anyone at Apple specified what those laws are. At a news conference today, the Hong Kong authorities also failed to do so, and redirected all questions about the matter to Apple.

Other Twitter users have put up with anonymous questions, citing an incongruity between Cook's progressive positions and his instance in this particular case. The developers of itself also spoke out, stating that the app never promoted or encouraged criminal activity.

The discussion, as quoted by the CEO himself, goes far beyond the undeniable that Apple has gotten into a snooker pool and has to have a lot of waist set to get out of the situation without a scratched picture. Let us follow, therefore, the scenes of the next chapters.

via 9to5Mac