- Lawmakers including Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called Apple’s decision to remove an app that Hong Kong protesters used to track police activity “deeply concerning” in a letter to CEO Tim Cook.
- The letter comes after some politicians have criticized the decision on Twitter.
- Apple said it removed the app because it was posing a threat to law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.
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Seven US lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have written a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing “strong concern” about the censorship of apps in China – particularly the company’s decision to remove HKmap.live, a controversial app Hong Kong protesters have used to track police activity.
“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKMaps is deeply concerning,” read the letter, which is signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), and Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey).
The letter comes after politicians including Wyden and Cotton publicly criticized Apple’s decision to remove HKmap.live from its App Store on Twitter last week.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment regarding the company’s response to the letter.
Apple said at the time that it removed the app because it was being used in ways that “endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong” in a statement to Business Insider on October 10. The company said it has verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app “has been used to target and ambush police.”
Cook also wrote a letter to Apple staff defending the firm’s decision to remove the app and recently met with the chief of China’s State Administration for Market Regulation to discuss a variety of topics, including expanding investment and business development and protecting consumer rights.
“For those of us who support the promotion of basic human rights and dignity, it was refreshing to hear a tech titan say that priorities were more important than profits,” the letter reads, referring to a previous Cook quote from a speech he had given in front of the Anti-Defamation League in 2018. “So you can imagine our disappointment to read that Apple had removed HKMap, a crowdsourced mapping app widely used by Hong Kong residents, from the App Store this week.”
Apple isn’t the only tech firm that’s been in the spotlight for decisions it’s made in the wake of the Hong Kong protests. The video-game publisher Blizzard Entertainment faced backlash after punishing an esports player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protests during an event.