Tim Cook defends Apple's removal of Hong Kong protest app in an internal email

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

The removal of two apps from the App Store in Hong Kong brought Apple into the public eye once again, as the controversial decision was seen by most as the company bending to Chinese will and criticism.

Much like Apple's official statement over the concerns, CEO Tim Cook's recent email to employees gave a detailed explanation for why the removal happened. "You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the App Store entitled HKmap.live," wrote Cook in the beginning. "These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. 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."

"It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different," continued Cook, who mentioned that the HKmap.live app allowed "crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information."

Cook further wrote that the "benign" information given by the app was found to be "used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property" by the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau as well as from users in the country. He said that this use of the app put it in violation of Hong Kong's law and the App Store guidelines over its widespread abuse.

"National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important they do not govern the facts," said Cook in defense of Apple's decision. He concluded that the company "thoroughly reviewed them" and believes that this decision best protected its users.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Sooooo .... Tim Cook is a sell out? Not really surprising at all, that's a typical Apple practice. Wouldn't it be interesting if he never sold another iPhone in China? No doubt he would be up for replacement in a hurry ...
 

gigantor21

TS Maniac
"National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important they do not govern the facts," said Cook in defense of Apple's decision. He concluded that the company "thoroughly reviewed them" and believes that this decision best protected its users.

By "users" I assume he means Apple's shareholders?
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
And how many apps do they give to governments to help oppress people? How about the 36 hour forced with beatings labor factories with suicide nets to catch jumpers by FoxCon? Follow the money and find the honey.
 

Shadowboxer

TS Addict
I’m glad. I’d rather big tech companies don’t get involved. If it’s illegal to put this app on Apples store then Apple should remove it. Better that than have a big tech company throwing their weight about in political matters.
 

gusticles41

TS Evangelist
I’m glad. I’d rather big tech companies don’t get involved. If it’s illegal to put this app on Apples store then Apple should remove it. Better that than have a big tech company throwing their weight about in political matters.
The app is not "illegal" and pulling it to appease Chinese govt IS political.
 

Shadowboxer

TS Addict
The app is not "illegal" and pulling it to appease Chinese govt IS political.
Complying with the laws compared to defying them because they think they know better?

I would take compliance personally. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to have these tech giants throwing their weight around in that fashion.

All this being said, I sympathise with the protestors in HK.