Apple and Google Are No Match For China

Grind for October 15th
“To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target.”
– Ashleigh Brilliant

Dark Roast

The Headline

Chinese criticism forces Apple and Google to pull Hong Kong-related apps

The Grind

Apple this week removed from its App Store after Chinese media described the app as “toxic software.” is a crowdsourced app that allows residents in Hong Kong to track police activity. The app is designed to be used by protestors, but critics worry it could endanger police and civilians by providing location information.

In a similar move, Google removed “The Revolution of Our Times” mobile game from its Google Play store.

The game, which allows users to role-play as a protestor in Hong Kong, was created by a Hong Kong resident who sought to bring attention to the protests. According to Google, the game violates a rule that prevents developers from capitalizing on “conflicts or tragedies.”

The Details

The decision by US tech companies to remove apps based on criticism from Beijing has prompted some to question Silicon Valley’s loyalties.

“Looks like the Chinese censors have had a word with them since,” says Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO). “Who’s really running Apple? Tim Cook or Beijing?”

Hong Kong citizen Charles Mok, who says helped residents avoid dangerous areas, says Hong Kong will be looking closely at Apple to see whether it decides to “uphold its commitment to free expression and other basic human rights or become an accomplice for Chinese censorship and oppression.”

It’s important to note that China represents one-fifth of Apple’s total sales.

On the Chinese side, Apple has removed hundreds of apps to comply with censorship authorities – including apps for news outlets Quartz and The New York Times.

Apple recently removed the Taiwan flag from the list of emojis available to subscribers in Hong Kong.

Desperate Times

The Headline

California shuts off electricity to prevent wildfires amid high winds

The Grind

California power company PG&E this week decided to cut electricity to 800,000 homes and businesses in Northern California.

The power cut, which began early Wednesday morning, is a desperate effort to prevent the risk of fallen power lines igniting wildfires.

“The conditions are ripe: dry fuel, high winds, warm event,” explains Ray Riorden, head of San Jose’s Office of Emergency Management. “Any spark can create a significant event.”

Up to two million residents could be affected by the outage; and since power lines will need to be inspected after the dangerous weather conditions subside, some people could be in the dark for up to five days.

“None of us are happy about it,” admits California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). “But this is part of something that we knew was likely to occur several months ago, when PG&E finally woke up to their responsibility to keep people safe.”

The Details

Sparks from PG&E’s power lines have been deemed responsible for last year’s Camp Fire – which killed 86 and caused $16 billion in damages.

“We have experienced an unprecedented fire season the past two years,” said a PG&E spokesperson. “And what we learned from that is that we need to be taking further steps to ensure the safety of our customers and the communities that we serve. Public safety power shut off is one of the many steps that we’re taking.”

PG&E has opened 28 facilities throughout Northern California to provide residents with bottled water, restrooms, and charging stations during the blackout.

Did you know… The symbol on the ‘pound’ key (#) is called an octothorpe.