Security News

Hong Kong's IT Legislator Contests Tim Cook's Claims, Citing "China's Influence"

A member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council has written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking that Apple lift its ban on, after the app was removed from the Apple store.

"I am deeply disappointed with Apple's decision to ban the app and would like to contest the claims made by Hong Kong Police's Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB)," wrote Charles Mok, who is also Hong Kong's IT Legislator, in a letter to Cook, which he shared on Twitter.

(The app, which crowdsources and tracks the location of police and protesters in Hong Kong, as well as police tear gas deployments and patrols, was removed from the Apple store on October 10.)

Cook had earlier referred to the CSTCB when defending Apple's decision to remove the app: "Over the past several days we received credible information from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimise individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law."

Mok countered this: "There are numerous cases of innocent passersby ... injured by the Hong Kong Police Force's excessive force in crowd dispersal operations. The user-generated information shared using helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any crime activities might be subjected to police brutality which many human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, have observed."

He then asked Apple to stand behind those using the app: "I sincerely hope Apple will choose to support its users and stop banning simply out of political reason or succumbing to China's influence like other American companies appear to be doing."

The reference to "China's influence" stems from the concern that Apple is bending to the will of China, after the China Daily news site, which is owned by the China's ruling Communist Party, wrote on October 8 that "no one wants to pull Apple into the turmoil that is happening in Hong Kong ... such recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple and Apple needs to think deeply ... Apple and other such companies should distinguish between right and wrong, and should understand the truth: China is good, Hong Kong is good, and their market will be broader and more sustainable."

Apple's sales in the Greater China region (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) totalled US$9.1 billion - over 15% of its global revenue - last quarter.

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