Apple withdraws police-tracking app used in Hong Kong protests

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Apple removes app that Hong Kong protesters used to track police movements after it used for vandalism, attacks on officers

The developer successfully appealed and HKMap Live went live on the App Store.

Hong Kong is one of the world's top shopping cities but four months of often violent protests have severely dented that reputation, with more than 100 shops closed, scores vandalised and malls now becoming sites for sit-ins by protesters.

Office worker Acko Wong, 26, said he downloaded the app to help him avoid "danger and traffic" during the many protests that have shaken the city. That kind of behavior would violate App Store guidelines prohibiting personal harm.

Apple made the decision a day after a Chinese state newspaper wrote a commentary criticizing the company for approving the app.

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.

Apple has removed from its App Store a smartphone app used by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to crowdsource the location of protesters and police, after Chinese state media suggested the tech giant was aiding "rioters".

The company had rejected the app earlier this month but then reversed course last week, allowing it to appear on its App Store. -China trade negotiations. Apple shares are up 1% to almost $230 a share in Thursday trading, and shares in Google parent Alphabet have also gone up 1% to $1,213.70.

The protests started in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled mainland Chinese courts, but have morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement. Apple was not immediately available for comment.

Apple, meanwhile, pulled HKmap.live in a move blasted as another case of companies outside of China bowing to the will of that country's regime. Now Google has banned a game about the protests, joining Apple and Blizzard in allegedly suppressing anything that might offend the Chinese government.

The app consolidates content from public posts on social networks and moderators delete content that solicits criminal activity and would ban repeated attempts to post such content in the app, it added. The Chinese government responded harshly, suspending broadcasts of some National Basketball Association games.

But the chief executive has been criticised for "taking at face value" the claims of the Hong Kong police, which don't chime with the experiences of worldwide observers on the ground.

On Tuesday, the People's Daily said Apple did not have a sense of right and wrong, and ignored the truth.

In Hong Kong, other US companies have found themselves on the opposite side of the coin. There is also a version on Google Play.

Hong Kong's metro rail system will shut early again today to allow time to fix damaged facilities, its operator said as the city braced for more anti-government demonstrations after a string of violent protests in the Asian financial hub.

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