Google, Facebook, and Other Tech Firms Threaten to Leave Hong Kong Due to Privacy Law

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An Asian industry group that includes Google, Facebook and Twitter has warned that tech companies could stop offering their services in Hong Kong if Chinese territory considers changing 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,” said 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,” said 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 document, AIC CEO Jeff Paine acknowledged that the proposed changes focus on the security and privacy of individuals’ personal data. “However, we wish to stress that doxing is a matter of serious concern,” he wrote.

Hong Kong saw an unprecedented wave of doxing – or the public disclosure of private or identifying information about an individual or organization – during the mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019. Personal details have come to light been disclosed by parties on both sides, along with the police, politicians, journalists and activists targeted, as well as their families.

Details of the home addresses of some officers and children’s schools were also revealed by anti-government protesters, some of whom threatened them and their families online.

“We… believe that any anti-doxing 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.

A sweeping crackdown on opposition and dissent by Hong Kong officials gained momentum with the implementation of a Beijing-designed national security law last year. More than 10,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, and at least 128, including journalists and politicians, in connection with new national security offenses. The Hong Kong government has dismissed international criticism of its crackdown and instead pledged to further strengthen the laws to bring “stability” to the city.

– Reuters contributed to this report

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