Apple CEO Tim Cook Defends Removal of Hong Kong Map App

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Hong Kong protests

It was used "maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present," he wrote in a memo.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended the technology giant's decision to remove from its store an app that allowed Hong Kong activists to report police movements after an official Chinese newspaper accused the firm of facilitating "illegal behavior."

Apple said in confirming the removal that the app, HKmap.live, "has been used to target and ambush police" and "threaten public safety." It said that this violated local law and Apple guidelines.

Cook in a staff memo reiterated that. He said the information in the app, including crowdsourced locations of police checkpoints and protest hotspots, was "benign" on its own, Reuters reported. But he added that Apple had "credible information" from both Hong Kong police and Apple users that the app was used "maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present."

Concluded Cook: "This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law." And he emphasized: "Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our App Store guidelines barring personal harm."

The Apple CEO highlighted overall: "It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different."

While some criticized Apple, saying it made the decision under Chinese government pressure, Cook in his memo wrote: "National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users."

The Hong Kong demonstrations began over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include other grievances and demands for greater democracy.