"Providing a gateway for "toxic apps" is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people", the paper said, confirming that Hkmap.live opened the door to violent protests.
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. In his letter, Mok goes into detail about how the HKmap.live app has been keeping nonpolitical residents out of the crossfire between demonstrators and police.
"It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different", Cook wrote, according to Reuters, which reviewed the letter.
Google also removed a game from its Chinese Google Play store that allowed users to play as a Hong Kong protester. Most of the content on the app is user-generated, but allows users to downvote and enables moderators to crack down on content that "solicit, promote, or encourage criminal activity".
"HKmap.live helps HK residents, journalists, tourists, etc ... avoid being hurt by teargas, rubber bullets, baton, beanbag round and water cannon that the Hong Kong police claims to be "minimum force", and get real-time updates of public transport". The police may believe that the protestors may indeed have been using the app to gain some tactical advantage at street level.
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The National Basketball Association, which was ensnared in a similar controversy over a team manager's support for the Hong Kong protests and a subsequent apology to China from the league, on Tuesday defended freedom of expression for team employees and other affiliated figures.
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". It's also where Apple manufactures most of its products, including iPhones and iPads.
"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. "There is no doubt about that".