July 5 (Reuters) – An Asian industry group that includes Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) warned that tech companies could stop offering their services in Hong Kong if the Chinese territory continues with plans to change privacy laws.
The warning came in a letter sent by the Asia Internet Coalition, of which all three companies, in addition to Apple Inc, LinkedIn and others, are members.
Proposed amendments to privacy laws in Hong Kong could see individuals face “severe penalties,” according to June 25 letter to the territory’s privacy commissioner Ada Chung Lai -ling, without specifying what the penalties would be.
“The introduction of sanctions targeting individuals is not aligned with global norms and trends,” added the letter, the content of which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong, thus depriving Hong Kong companies and consumers, while also creating new barriers to the market. trade. “
In the six-page letter, AIC CEO Jeff Paine acknowledged that the proposed changes focus on the security and privacy of individuals’ personal data. “However, we would like to stress that doxxing is a matter of serious concern,” he wrote.
During anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019, doxxing – or the public release of private or identifying information about an individual or organization – came under scrutiny when police were targeted. after posting their details online.
The home address details of some officers and children’s schools were also exposed by anti-government protesters, some of whom threatened them and their families online.
“We (…) believe that any anti-doxxing legislation, which may have the effect of restricting freedom of expression, must be based on the principles of necessity and proportionality,” said AIC.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters, while Twitter referred questions to AIC.
Google declined to comment.
The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee of continued freedoms. Pro-democracy activists say those freedoms are curtailed by Beijing, especially with a national security law introduced last year cracking down on dissent. China denies the accusation.
Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; edited by David Evans and Nick Macfie
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