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Facebook, Twitter & Google Threaten to Quit Hong Kong

Sun Jul 11 2021

Hong Kong authorities state the new privacy laws will only target illegal behaviour

Internet giants, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, have threatened to turn off their services in Hong Kong over proposed new privacy laws that would make all tech firms liable for user-generated content on their platforms.

 

The amendments to Hong Kong’s current data-protection laws were put forward by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau in May, with the stated goal of tackling the growing problem of doxing in Hog Kong (posting personally identifiable information with malicious intent) that become especially problematic during the pro-democracy riots of 2019.

Under the proposed new legislation, the Hong Kong authorities would have the power to force digital companies and website owners to remove all personal information from their platforms.

Failure to do so could result in fines of HK$1 million (about £93,230) and/or up to five years' in prison.

 

Whilst that might all sound reasonable, The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), which includes tech giants such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Apple, have responded by sending an open letter to Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data to share their concerns.

Their main issue is that the new proposals aren’t “aligned with global norms and trends” and could “see individuals hit with severe sanctions” as the legislation doesn’t distinguish between individuals working at the company and the company itself.

The signatories to the letter argue that their employees in Hong Kong aren’t responsible for global strategy or overarching operations of the platforms in Hong Kong and as such don’t have the correct administration rights to conform to the legislation.

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The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong, thereby depriving Hong Kong businesses and consumers, whilst also creating new barriers to trade.

AIC open letter

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Hong Kong’s CEO, Carrie Lam responded to say:

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We are targeting illegal doxing and empowering the privacy commissioners to investigate and carry out operations, that's it. There is wide support that doxing should be legislated against.

Carrie Lam – CEO, Hong Kong

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However, in a press briefing she did confirm Hong Kong would meet with firms concerned about the changes.

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Sun Jul 11 2021

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