To anyone who’s heard of “The Great Firewall of China”, it seems like one huge nightmare.
Just imagine: no Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Google.
Oh, the utter despair.
For those living in Hong Kong, they probably might have thanked their lucky stars that Hong Kong isn’t behind the great firewall of China.
Unfortunately, their current access to all the apps of well-known tech giants might be under threat after all.
Tech Giants Threaten to Leave Hong Kong Over Proposed Data Protection Law
The Asia Internet Coalition has threatened to stop operating in Hong Kong if authorities proceed with data protection law amendments that could see companies being held liable for doxxing campaigns.
According to Engadget, the amendments could be approved as early as the end of the legislative year.
Doxxing refers to the act of sharing others’ personal information online so that they can be harassed by others.
The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) is a tech alliance comprising Facebook, Google, Twitter and many other well-known tech firms like Yahoo, Amazon and Line.
In a letter released by the AIC, it was stated that with the proposed amendments, companies are concerned that their staff would be at risk of criminal investigations or prosecution due to what users share online.
Calling such an outcome a “completely disproportionate and unnecessary response”, the coalition pointed out that the proposed law amendments would severely restrict free speech. It added that the amendments could even criminalise “innocent acts of sharing information online.”
In the letter, the alliance suggested that Hong Kong narrow the scope of violations. However, it seems like their efforts have been to no avail.
Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data acknowledged the letter’s existence. However, it insisted that new measures were needed as doxxing pushed the “limits of morality and the law”.
They are probably referring to the 2019 protests in Hong Kong, during which pro-democracy activists had frequently doxxed police officers and others.
The amendments to the laws would “not have any bearing” on freedom of speech, the Commissioner said, adding that outside investment in the Hong Kong region will not be deterred due to the changed laws.
The main concern regarding Hong Kong’s proposed law amendments is that pro-China officials might abuse the updated laws to silence dissent, heavily curtailing free speech. Holding police officers accountable for violence or criticising officials for anti-democratic policies could become much harder if the amendments were to be approved.
There’s also the worry that given enough loose wording, the revised laws could mean that a mere sharing of a photo of someone in public could get users and tech firms in trouble.
Featured Image: Wachiwit / Shutterstock.com
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