Tech giants threatened the Hong Kong government with quitting the city if it decides to go ahead with proposed reforms to the Personal Data Protection Act, which might leave them liable to doxxing charges.
Through a private letter addressed to Hong Kong authorities, Facebook, Twitter, and Google expressed their concern about being singled out for malicious sharing of private information over the Internet (a practice known as “doxing”), as the proposed rules to control the flow of personal data could put their staff at risk of criminal investigation or prosecution. The information was reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In May, Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau proposed amending the Internet Personal Data Protection laws with the aim of combating doxing, after the practice became common during protests against the extradition law to China announced during 2019.
In May, Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau proposed amending the Internet Personal Data Protection laws with the aim of combating doxxing, after the practice became common during protests against the extradition law to China announced during 2019.
The proposal made Tuesday by the Hong Kong government means anyone engaging in doxxing with the intent to threaten, intimidate, harass or cause psychological harm could face charges of up to five years in prison and fines of up to HK$1 million (which is equivalent to about $128,765).
As reported by the South China Morning Post, the amendment also proposes to equip the Privacy Bureau with investigative powers that would allow it to “compel individuals to assist in investigations” and request the removal of “offensive content” from the web.
Previously, during June, the Asia Internet Coalition addressed Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data through a letter expressing that “the only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong.”
During the anti-government protests that took place in 2019, citizens published the personal information of police and government officials, triggering a series of legal actions by Beijing against the autonomy of Hong Kong’s political system.
Since then, China’s communist government has enabled a series of laws that infringe on Hong Kong’s autonomy. Among them, the National Security Law passed in May 2020 that allows Chinese security agencies to operate freely in Hong Kong, as well as the Immigration Law passed in April 2021 that allows Beijing to prevent people from leaving the city without authorization from the central government.