Several pro-democracy protests are planned for Hong Kong on Saturday reflecting the widespread anger at the government, ranging from an elderly sit-in, a face mask party, a shopping mall demonstration and an anti-emergency law street march. "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". "In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users".More news: Goldman Reviewing Involvement in Chinese AI Firm's IPO
As the protests in Hong Kong rage on, USA businesses increasingly walk a tightrope with the Chinese market on one side and public opinion elsewhere on the other.
In a statement, a day after the editorial appeared, Apple told the media it has verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and "ambush" police.
Google also suspended a role-playing app on October 10 for violating a company policy "prohibiting developers from capitalizing on sensitive events, such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game".
According to the app's developers, pro-democracy protestors, journalists, and even Hong Kong government supporters have been using HKmap.live to navigate the city as large-scale political protests continue.More news: Intel kills collaboration with AMD on Core processors with Radeon graphics
"Given the context of how (Apple) has over the years removed apps and removed access to news particularly inside mainland China that the Chinese government doesn't want, I think that the removal of this particular app strikes me as another shameful incident in which a multinational company bends to Chinese government pressure", she said. The company did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for further confirmation or comment. Thursday's removal of the app drew immediate reprimands from Washington. Activists say China is trying to end the partial self-rule promised in 1997 when Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China. In recent quarters, China has accounted for more than 15% of Apple's global sales. "In the Apple Music Store in Hong Kong, there was also a song advocating 'Hong Kong independence.' Such a song was once removed from the music store and has resurrected", wrote the editorial. A number of services, most notably the driving app Waze, prominently offer western users the option of avoiding police speed checks.
The People's Daily newspaper, in its commentary on Tuesday, said Apple did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth.
The unrest started more than four months ago in what began as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill but has since widened into a pro-democracy movement amid fears that China is encroaching on Hong Kong's freedoms. "To do nothing when it's being used for a specific objective that actually facilitates these protests, to do nothing would be rather irresponsible", he said.
The tension has highlighted some USA 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.More news: Blizzard US employees staged a walkout amidst controversial Hearthstone player ban