Thursday, October 3, 2019

HKmap Live Rejected From the App Store

Kieren McCarthy (Hacker News):

Apple has banned an app that allows people in Hong Kong to keep track of protests and police activity in the city state, claiming such information is illegal.

“Your app contains content - or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity - that is not legal … specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement,” the American tech giant told makers of the HKmap Live on Tuesday before pulling it.

The makers, and many others, have taken exception to that argument, by pointing out that the app only allows people to note locations - as many countless thousands of other apps do - and so under the same logic, apps such as driving app Waze should also be banned.

That argument is obtuse of course[…]

It’s actually an interesting question whether apps should be reviewed based on what they technically do vs. what they are marketed to do vs. what customers end up choosing to do with them. The same issue came up with Gab.

Anyway, here’s your regular reminder that the only reason Apple is involved in deciding which politically sensitive apps should be available is that it forbids iOS users from downloading and installing apps themselves.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple is reviewing its decision to reject HKmap Live, reports Bloomberg, and is likely investigating whether the software violates local laws. It’s not yet clear if the app will be re-added to the App Store and the developer has not yet received an update from Apple following the commencement of the new review.


Update (2019-10-04): Nick Heer:

At this stage, it seems just as likely to me that this rejection was due to an App Review failure as it was a way to appease the Chinese government. Either way, it’s a problem of Apple’s own creation.

If it’s the former, it just goes to show how accurate App Review needs to be, and the gaping chasm between where it is now and where it ought to be.


But if it’s deliberate, it suggests a far worse situation.

John Gruber:

Hanlon’s Razor — “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” — has never applied to anything more aptly than App Store rejections (although “incompetence” might be a better word than “stupidity”). So I think there’s a good chance that there’s nothing to this other than a bad decision on the part of a rank-and-file App Store reviewer. The HK Map developers think the same thing. (And to be clear, this is a new app that was rejected, it’s not an app that Apple pulled from the App Store. Also, the good news for iPhone-owning Hongkongers is that HK Maps has a good mobile web app.) (Hacker News):

@Apple finally made the right decision. Will update later as things are going crazy in #HK now.

No explanation for why it was first rejected.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

[…] protestor activity in the “second system” separately-governed region of Hong Kong. This isn’t the first time that Apple has made a decision that gives the appearance of appeasing an authoritarian government […]

Speaking as a HongKonger I am with Apple on this one. The App originally market itself for illegal activity. That is like marketing an App where drug dealer are and prices.

Once you remove those marketing speech, Apple approved the app. Even renaming cops to happy bunny will do . So Apple rejected them on "what they are marketed to do". rather what it is technically doing.

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