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Tech Giant Apple Removes Police-tracking App Used in HK Protests

After Lam introduced the colonial-era anti-mask ban last week, the city has come to a standstill with more protests erupting against the legislation

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

The multinational technology giant Apple said that it had removed an iPhone application allegedly used by anti-government protesters in Hong Kong to track and attack police.

Apple said in a statement that the Hkmap.live application was no longer available on iPhone App Store, Efe news agency reported on Thursday.

“We have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in the areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” the Apple statement said.

It added that “this app violates our guidelines and local laws”.

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iPhones are on display at an Apple store in Prince William Country, Virginia. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet) VOA

Apple”s decision comes a day after the Chinese state-run People”s Daily newspaper criticised Apple for allowing the application to be used on its mobile devices.

“Providing a gateway for ”toxic apps” is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people,” the paper said, confirming that Hkmap.live opened the door to violent protests.

Also Read: More Than 140 Million Businesses Use our Apps Every Month: Facebook

Protests in Hong Kong started in June over the now-shelved extradition bill which has turned more into a democracy movement, with demonstrators asking Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down.

After Lam introduced the colonial-era anti-mask ban last week, the city has come to a standstill with more protests erupting against the legislation. (IANS)

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Apple Refutes Report of Sharing Safari Data with Tencent or Google

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he believes privacy is "ingrained in the Constitution," but that he's worried about how third-party companies have worked to collect information on us

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

After media reports surfaced that Apple is sending iOS users’ data via its Safari browser to Google and the Chinese tech company Tencent, the Cupertino-based iPhone maker refuted such reports, saying it safeguards people’s information in its own systems and never shares it with third-party players.

A report in reclaimthenet.org stated that “Apple, which often positions itself as a champion of privacy and human rights, may be sending some IP addresses from users of its Safari browser on iOS to Chinese conglomerate Tencent — a company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party”.

The report focused on Apple’s “fraudulent website warning” system which is built into Apple’s Safari web browser to warn people when they visit sites that are harmful and can trick users into sharing login passwords for banks, email and social media.

“Before visiting a website, Safari may send information calculated from the website address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check if the website is fraudulent. These browsing providers may also log your IP address,’ read the information on Apple’s “Safari & Privacy” section.

It’s unclear when Apple started allowing Tencent and Google to log some user IP addresses, but one Twitter user reported the change in Safari happened as early as the iOS 12.2 beta in February 2019, said the report.

Google on an Android device. Pixabay

In a statement, the company said it actually doesn’t send information to Google or Tencent.

“Instead, it receives a list of bad websites from both companies and then uses it to protect people as they surf the web. Apple sometimes obscures the information about the website people visit if it requests more information to check if a questionable website is malicious,” CNET reported on Monday, citing Apple’s statement.

Also Read: Kerala Unable to get Medics from Reserved Category

For people concerned about their privacy, the service can be turned off in Safari preferences on the iPhone or Mac.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he believes privacy is “ingrained in the Constitution,” but that he’s worried about how third-party companies have worked to collect information on us. (IANS)