Apple has drawn criticism for removing HKmap.live from its App Store, which was used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong to monitor police movements via crowdsourcing. The decision was made shortly after Chinese news outlets accused Apple of criminality (“…Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts”).

Tim Cook defended HKmap.live’s removal in a letter sent to employees today. Cook said he made the decision based on information he received from Hong Kong law enforcement, who claimed the mapping app was “being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimise individuals and property where no police are present.”

But Cook’s claims have been disputed by those on the ground, who argue the violations described don’t match up with what the app displays. Individual officers are not displayed on the map, an online version of which is still live: only large concentrations of police are shown, with the stated intention of allowing protesters to avoid rather than confront law enforcement.

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