In yet another event to crush the democratic spirit, tech giant Apple removed a crowdsourcing app HKlmap.live from its stores. The app marked the location of the police and also informed the protesters about street closures due to the dissent against totalitarian policies of mainland China.
The app was rejected by Apple earlier this month on account that the app promotes activities that are not legal. Then, in a sudden reversal of its previous decision, Apple allowed the app to feature on its App Store. Now, Apple has reversed its repeal, which brings it back to square one. However, the web version of the app can be accessed via iPhone, as reported by The Verge.
The Chinese media, which is mostly state-sponsored — acting as a front of the government to spread propaganda — was irked by Apple’s decision to bring the app to its store and criticised the decision.
This is not the first event where tech companies have banned such pro-democratic elements. According to a report by The Verge, Apple removed the Quartz news app from its store after the Chinese Government complained about it. It seems like the tech giants are not giants after all, especially in front of powerful governments where they have significant commercial interests. Chinese Government is known for widespread surveillance and crushing of press and individual freedom and is transforming into a dystopian nightmare.
Earlier, Blizzard banned a player for commenting in support of Hong Kong protests, following which the company is drawing criticisms from its gaming community as well as employees, who also reportedly staged a walkout.
China is known for such behaviour towards its dissenting citizens. However, big companies have also tried to restrict Chinese propaganda on their platforms. Earlier this year, in August, it was found that Chinese-government backed Twitter accounts — some of which were run by media outlets — were spreading propaganda aimed at discrediting the protesters in Hong Kong.
Facebook also found similar accounts that originated from China and were spreading misinformation about the protests in Hong Kong. Other messaging apps like Telegram also discovered a zero-day bug that affected phones running iOS and Android.
Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations.
You can contact him here: [email protected]