- A prominent Hong Kong legislator and IT entrepreneur, Charles Mok, has warned Apple from becoming “an accomplice for Chinese censorship and oppression” in an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
- Apple has come under fire in recent days for withdrawing a map app which showed the location of police during the Hong Kong protests from the App Store.
- Mok’s letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, published on Twitter, said the app’s removal “cause problems for normal Hong Kong citizens trying to avoid police presence while they are under constant fear of police brutality.”
- Tim Cook has defended the app’s removal, claiming it was being used to “maliciously target individual officers for violence.”
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A Hong Kong lawmaker has warned Apple from becoming an “accomplice for Chinese censorship and oppression”, and expressed disappointment in the firm for banning a map app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police presence.
Charles Mok, who represents the Information Technology functional constituency on the Hong Kong Legislative Council, made the comments in an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Mok’s letter focused on Apple’s recent decision to remove an app called HKmap.live, which allows its users to track Hong Kong police presence.
Defending the app, Mok wrote that HKmap.live “helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any criminal activities might be subjected to police brutality,” adding that “there had been “numerous cases of innocent passerby [sic] in the neighbourhood injured by the Hong Kong Police Force’s excessive force in crowd dispersal situations.”
After elaborating on what he felt was the app’s ability to limit danger, Mok wrote: “I sincerely hope that Apple will choose to support its users and stop banning HKmap.live simply out of political reason [sic] or succumbing to China’s influence like other American companies appear to be doing.”
Today I wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to tell him his company’s decision to remove HKmap live app from Appstore will cause problems for normal Hong Kong’s citizens trying to avoid police presence while they are under constant fear ofpolice brutality. Values over profits, pls! pic.twitter.com/guaBfV8Pnf
— Charles Mok 莫乃光 (@charlesmok) October 10, 2019
Mok appeared to be referencing recent furores over the NBA’s attempts to appease China after one of its coaches supported the Hong Kong protests, and game giant Blizzard’s punishment of a player who likewise voiced support.
He added: “We Hongkongers will definitely look closely at whether Apple chooses to uphold its commitment to free expression and other basic human rights, or become an accomplice for Chinese censorship and oppression.”
After censure from US lawmakers and the press, Tim Cook defended the app’s removal on Thursday in a memo sent to Apple employees. In particular, Cook said the app was being used to cause unwarranted violence. Critics say this is a Chinese state talking point.
According to Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the memo, Cook wrote that HKmap.live was being used to “maliciously target individual officers for violence” and “victimize individuals and property where no police are present.”
The Apple CEO said he received “credible information” from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau and users in Hong Kong indicating that the app was being used in such a way.
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