Tim Cook's claim Hong Kong app was 'used maliciously to target individual officers for violence' sounds like BS, say Apple watchers

Apple can't seem to figure out how to kowtow to China without losing face in the US.

Apple has banned the controversial Hong Kong protest app HKmaplive yet again, as our Cory Doctorow and Rob Beschizza each covered previously today.

Tim Cook is reported to have sent around an internal email at Apple in which the CEO claims the banned app in Hong Kong "was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence."


That sure sounds like BS to me.

Here's a pastebin link making the rounds that purports to be Cook's company-wide email. It's been validated.

"I've seen a copy of Cook's company-wide email, and the copy reproduced here is accurate," writes John Gruber at Daring Fireball. "Maciej Ceglowski — who has been in Hong Kong for weeks — responds…"

[Writes Ceglowski here —-]

The first allegation is that "the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence". This makes no sense at all. The app does not show the locations of individual officers at all. It shows general concentrations of police units, with a significant lag.

As the developer and @charlesmok, a Hong Kong legislator, have pointed out, the app aggregates reports from Telegram, Facebook and other sources. It beggars belief that a campaign to target individual officers would use a world-readable crowdsourcing format like this.

Moreover, what are these incidents where protesters have targeted individual police for a premeditated attack? Can Mr. Cook point to a single example? Can anyone? […]

So not only is there no evidence for this claim, but it goes against the documentary record of 18 weeks of protests, and is not even possible given the technical constraints of the app (which tracks groups of police).

The second, related allegation is that the app helps "victimize individuals and property where no police are present". Again, does Mr. Cook have any evidence for this claim? The app does not show an absence of police, it shows concentrations of police, tear gas, riot flags etc.

Here are Gruber's 3 questions:

1) When was HKmap.live "used maliciously to target individual officers for violence"?

2) When was it used to "victimize individuals and property where no police are present"?

3) What local laws in Hong Kong does it violate?

No response from Apple yet.


• And Reuters now has a story on the backlash to Tim Cook today.

[via techmeme.com]