Technology companies are already at odds with the Hong Kong government and it seems this tense climate is likely to grow.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Asia Internet Coalition, a technology alliance that includes Facebook, Google and Twitter, has quietly warned Hong Kong that companies would stop operating in the territory if authorities move forward with revisions to data protection laws that they could hold companies responsible for doxxing campaigns.
The tech giants are concerned that the team could face criminal investigations or even prosecutions if users share personal information online, even if they have no intention of causing harm. That would be a “completely disproportionate and unnecessary response” and could mitigate freedom of expression, the Coalition wrote. Instead, the alliance suggested that Hong Kong narrow the scope of violations.
Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data acknowledged the letter’s existence but said further measures were needed after the doxxing pushed the “limits of morality and law.” The Commissioner also insisted that the amended laws “would have no bearing” on freedom of expression and would not impede foreign investment in the Hong Kong region.
Revisions could be approved by the end of the legislative year.
The concern, as one might imagine, is that pro-China officials may abuse the updated laws to silence dissent. Pro-democracy activists often “doxxed” police and others during the 2019 protests, and there is concern that the revised laws might be drafted so broadly that simply sharing a photo of someone in a public space could put the maker and technology companies in trouble. Indeed, it may be more difficult to try to hold the police accountable for the violence or to criticize the authorities for undemocratic policies.