Technology

Hong Kong anti-doxing bill to allow blocking of social media access

The Hong Kong government will gain the authority to restrict local access to the world’s largest technology platform under legislation to punish “doxing” crimes expected to be passed this year.

This measure is the latest government effort to insist on greater control over the freedom of citizens in the territory, following the 2019 opposition to democratization, where government critics and supporters alike. Engaged in bleaching Publish personal information of police officers, lawmakers, journalists, and protesters online.

However, the anti-bleaching bill, which amends Hong Kong’s privacy law, has been criticized for being too broad, leaving Internet service providers and citizens vulnerable to arbitrary accusations and unjustified charges. Critics said it could also be used to limit freedom of expression.

Amendments introduced in the city Parent government legislature Came on Monday, a few days after the Biden administration Issued a severe warning About the risks to US companies operating on Chinese territory, and a year after Beijing imposed a drastic national security law.

Authorities have introduced other restrictions on information in recent months, such as access restrictions. Corporate registry data Censorship of movies that seem to threaten national security.

The Apple Daily, which promotes democratization in Hong Kong, which has often criticized the government recently Closed under political pressure.. On Wednesday, police arrested more senior editorial staff, including former editor-in-chief Ram Manchun, who worked for the tabloids.

Former Editor-in-Chief of Apple Daily, Lam Man-chung marks the final edition of the newspaper in Hong Kong last month © Tyrone Si / Reuters

Due to privacy law amendments, Hong Kong may order platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove content classified as doxing and block local access to the platform if the company does not comply there is.

Employees of technology companies based in or entering Chinese territory may also face imprisonment for not deleting such materials under the vast authority given to the city’s privacy commissioner. There is sex.

“This makes me nervous,” said Paul Haswell, a technical partner at Pinsent Masons in Hong Kong. “Punishment is one of the toughest things in the world against doxing.”

Employees who fail to delete materials could be sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of HK $ 100,000 (US $ 12,865). Individuals convicted of bleaching can face five years in prison and a fine of HK $ 1 million.

Proponents of the bill argued that strict rules were needed Suppress the misuse of personal information..

“Given the serious harm caused by exposure to victims such as police and their families, there must be heavy penalties,” Holden Chow, a Pro-Beijing sect member of the city, told the Financial Times.

However, the Asia Internet Coalition, a lobbying consortium representing US Internet companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, caveat Last month, the law said that the tech group could stop providing services in Hong Kong due to increased risk to staff. Since then, AIC has added that none of its members plan to leave the city.

Hong Kong’s constitutional and mainland affairs secretary Eric Tsang sought to reassure tech companies on Monday. “If employees in these companies in Hong Kong are only responsible for general marketing or administrative work and are not authorized to handle’doxing’content, then you don’t have to worry too much about legal liability,” he said. It was. ..

The AIC said the planned law was too vague because it did not clearly define the doxing or “psychological harm” caused by it, which was used as a test of prosecution.

With the presence of a large social media platform and search engine in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Attractiveness to international business Compared to mainland China, where access to information is restricted by a system called the “Great Firewall”.

Media companies can also violate the law. Attorney Haswell warned that it is not clear whether a photo of a person would be considered bleached without consent.

However, proponents of the bill said regular news coverage was covered by existing exemptions.

A head of a US law firm in Hong Kong said an international business group called for a new risk assessment in light of the Anti-bleaching Act and the Biden administration’s notice.

“There is more urgency in returning the potential impact of this issue to headquarters than I have seen before,” the lawyer said.

Additional report by Mercedes Ruehl of Singapore

Video: How National Security Law Is Changing Hong Kong

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