Asia Internet Coalition, established in 2010, and others, warned that amendments to privacy laws could have very negative effects.
The group which includes Google, Amazon, Facebook, Linkedin, Airbnb, Twitter said that they could stop their services in Hong Kong if the former British colony goes ahead with its plans to change privacy laws.
The group’s warnings were written in a 25 June letter addressed to Ms. Ada Chung Lai-ling, privacy commissioner for the Personal Data Privacy Bureau (PCDP) in Hong Kong.
According to the six-page long letter you can find here, “, introducing sanctions aimed at individuals is not aligned with global norms and trends, and with tort law generally. It is normally reserved for those persons that actively and wilfully participate and direct activities that evidently cause physical harm. Introducing severe sanctions and especially personal liability in relation to assessing requests for taking down content has the consequence of encouraging online platforms to conduct little to no review of requests and over-block content, which will likely result in grave impact on due process and risks for freedom of expression and communication. 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. Thus, the possibility of prosecuting subsidiary employees will create uncertainties for businesses and affect Hong Kong’s development as an innovation and technology hub.”
The letter specifically denounced doxing or publicly releasing private information about individuals or organizations, an activity that was particularly intense during the mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019.
“We believe that any anti-doxing legislation, which may have the effect of restricting free expression, must be built on principles of necessity and proportionality,” the AIC said.
On Tuesday morning during a press conference with the press, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the proposed law would only target “illegal” doxing, adding that the privacy commissioner would be happy to meet with tech companies to clarify their concerns.
Since the adoption of the controversial National Security Act in Hong Kong, there has been a sweeping crackdown on opposition and dissent by local authorities. More than 10,000 people have been arrested, including 128 in connection with the new national security offenses.
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