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  • In a memo to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook stood by the company's decision to remove an app from the App Store used by Hong Kong protesters to monitor police activity.
  • Cook said the app was removed because it was being used to "maliciously target individual officers for violence," according to a memo to staff obtained by Bloomberg.
  • Cook also said in the email that he received "credible information" from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau and users that indicated the app was being used in this way.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is standing by the company's controversial decision to remove an app from the App Store used by Hong Kong protesters to track police activity.

In an email to Apple staff obtained by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Cook said the app, called HKmap.live, was removed because it was being used to "maliciously target individual officers for violence" and "victimise individuals and property where no police are present."

The Apple CEO said he received "credible information" from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau and users in Hong Kong that indicated that the app was being used in this way, Bloomberg reported.

"These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate," Cook wrote in the email, according to Bloomberg. "National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users."

The content of the email published in Bloomberg's story is similar to a post said to be a leaked memo to staff from Cook that was published on the website Pastebin on Thursday.

An Apple spokesperson did not respond to Business Insider's inquiry about whether the memo posted on Pastebin was legitimate.

Cook's email echoes the comment Apple issued earlier in response to its decision to remove the app, a choice that has come under criticism. See below for the full statement Apple issued to Business Insider earlier on Thursday regarding its decision to remove HKmap.live from the App Store.

We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place to discover apps. We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong. Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it. The app displays police locations and 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 victimise residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.

Apple removed the app after People's Daily, the newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party, slammed the iPhone maker for keeping the app on its store. Since Apple removed the app, officials such as US Sen. Josh Hawley and Charles Mok, Hong Kong's information technology legislator, have rallied against the decision.

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