Hong Kong dismisses Facebook, Google warning over privacy laws

 Hong Kong dismisses Facebook, Google warning over privacy laws

Hong Kong dismisses Google, Facebook warning over privacy laws

CITY OF VICTORIA, 06 July: Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, has brushed off a warning by major tech companies including Google, Facebook, and Twitter that they may quit the Chinese-controlled city if authorities go ahead with plans to change privacy laws.

Lam told reporters on Tuesday that the proposed changes would only target illegal “doxxing” – the act of sharing people’s private details online without their consent.

That practice came under scrutiny in Hong Kong during the anti-government protests of 2019, when police officers were targeted after their details were released online. Some of the officers’ home addresses and children’s schools were also exposed, and they and their families were threatened.

The Hong Kong government is now proposing changes to the city’s privacy laws, including imposing a one-year jail term and a maximum fine of one million Hong Kong dollars ($128,731) for offenders who disclose personal data without consent – with the intention of intimidating, harassing or causing psychological harm to someone and his or her family members.

On June 25, an Asian industry group – that includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple Inc and LinkedIn – sent a letter to the Hong Kong government, expressing concern that the changes could also make them liable for the malicious sharing of inidviduals’ information online.

Additionally, the Asia Internet Coalition said that while “doxxing is a matter of serious concern”, the proposed legal changes could also see individuals hit with “severe sanctions”.

The contents of the letter were first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

“Introducing sanctions aimed at individuals is not aligned with global norms and trends,” the letter said, adding that any anti-doxxing legislation “must be built upon principles of necessity and proportionality”.

The group warned, “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.”

Web Desk

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