Apple removes app used by Hong Kong protesters to track police movements

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Apps previously have been removed after their release if they were found to facilitate illegal activity or threaten public safety.

In a separate move, Apple also removed the Quartz news app from its App Store in China because Chinese authorities said the app violated local laws.

Hong Kong protesters, meanwhile, the other hand, have targeted mainland banks and what they perceive to be pro-mainland businesses. It's out of my great respect for the work you do every day that I want to share the way we went about making this decision.

Mainland Chinese visitors, Hong Kong's most important tourism source, have more than halved between July and September, ForwardKeys travel analytics said on Thursday.

The tension has highlighted some US firms' dependence on China while raising questions about their willingness to compromise on values such as freedom of expression to continue doing business in the country, where authorities tolerate no criticism of the ruling party.

The political sensitivities of the protests have also ensnared global businesses, with the US National Basketball Association (NBA) the latest example after Chinese organisers on Wednesday cancelled a fan event over a tweet by a team official supporting protests in Hong Kong.

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Although the app has been removed from Apple's store, a website version appears to remain active.

Mok said in his letter that the app "helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any criminal activities might be subjected to police brutality".

Apple's decision was "not acceptable", she said, adding she'll think twice about buying more of the company's products. The app is no longer available even in App Stores outside of China.

Activists have been protesting at malls across Hong Kong.

The decision to bar the app, which crowdsources the locations of both police and protesters, from its app store plunges Apple into the increasingly fraught political tension between China and the protesters that has also ensnared other U.S. and Hong Kong businesses.

According to a statement published by the makers of, Apple said "your app has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong".

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"Criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement", Apple said. It said that violated local law and Apple guidelines.

But Cook's claims have been disputed by those on the ground, who argue the violations described don't match up with what the app displays. Business Insider contacted Google to ask if it has received any similar messages from concerned users.

A scrum of Apple fans outside a closed Apple Store in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay.

"Apple should be transparent and fair in its decisions to remove apps and stand up for freedom of speech".

News publication Quartz had its mobile app pulled yesterday for serving "content that is illegal in China", referencing its ongoing coverage of the pro-democracy protests raging in Hong Kong.

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