facebook linkedin twitter

Big Tech Industry Group Criticizes Hong Kong’s Vague Data Rules

July 6, 2021 by Dan McCue
A protester holding a U.K. flag is arrested by police officers during the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong handover to China at a street in Hong Kong Thursday, July 1, 2021. Marking the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese control, a top city official defended the national security law imposed by Beijing to crush pro-democracy rallies and said Thursday it would be used further in the coming year to ensure stability. (AP Photo)

An industry group representing Google, Facebook and other Internet companies warned Hong Kong’s government that changes to the city’s data-protection laws could dramatically curb the companies’ ability to provide services to it.

The problem, the letter says, is vaguely worded rules that the Singapore-based Asia Internet Coalition says could have a profoundly negative impact on due process, while posing a risk to “freedom of expression and communication.”

Hong Kong officials say the new rules were created to curb so-called doxxing — the targeted disclosure of individuals’ private information.

Once a colony of the British Empire, the territory of Hong Kong was transferred to China in 1997 with the understanding that it would remain a “special administrative region” of the People’s Republic of China.

Under the agreement, Hong Kong reputedly maintains separate government and economic systems from mainland China under a principle of “one country, two systems.”

That scheme allowed Hong Kong to continue to flourish as a banking and technology epicenter in Asia. As a result, many major internet companies maintain extensive offices and servers there.

However, in recent years, China has been imposing a wide range of harsh new rules, limiting the city’s former freedoms.

For instance, under a proposed privacy ordinance, the city faces a new digital reality in which the authorities have broad surveillance and censorship powers. 

Among its provisions is one that suggests Hong Kong police could arrest local employees and impose fines on the tech companies if they are not responsive to the new doxxing rules.

In its letter, the coalition says it understands the proposed ordinance is intended protect the “safety and personal data privacy of individuals” and it acknowledges “[d]oxxing is a matter of serious concern.”

But at the same time, the coalition says, “[w]e also believe that any anti-doxxing legislation, which can have the effect of curtailing free expression, must be built upon principles of necessity and proportionality.”

“Across aspects of social life, introducing sanctions aimed at individuals is not aligned with global norms and trends, and with tort law generally,” the letter continues. “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,” it says 

“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,” the coalition concluded. “Thus, the possibility of prosecuting subsidiary employees will create uncertainties for businesses and affect Hong Kong’s development as an innovation and technology hub.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Technology

August 5, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Senators Reveal Huge Financial Losses From US Tech Stolen by Chinese

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee went public Wednesday with the kind of information about China’s use of U.S. technology that... Read More

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee went public Wednesday with the kind of information about China’s use of U.S. technology that normally would stay behind the closed doors where clandestine issues are discussed. Select Committee on Intelligence leaders revealed that China’s unauthorized use of technology is costing... Read More

July 28, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Keeping Big Brother in Check: Facial Recognition Technology

Biometric technology identifies you based on your biological characteristics: your fingerprint, your iris, your face.  It can even measure how... Read More

Biometric technology identifies you based on your biological characteristics: your fingerprint, your iris, your face.  It can even measure how you walk, your gait, said Steve Crown, vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, during Tuesday’s Center for Strategic & International Studies’ event on the human... Read More

July 27, 2021
by Victoria Turner
FCC Ready to Fund $311 Million Broadband Deployment to 36 States

The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday that it is ready to release more than $311 million in funding for high-speed... Read More

The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday that it is ready to release more than $311 million in funding for high-speed broadband deployment across 36 states through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.  Working to clean up the RDOF “waste” such as winning bids to deploy in areas... Read More

July 27, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp
Facial Recognition Tech Threatens Human Rights, Needs Oversight

WASHINGTON -- A new two-part study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C.-based national security think tank,... Read More

WASHINGTON -- A new two-part study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C.-based national security think tank, has said that civilian and judicial oversight will be crucial to limiting the potential human rights abuses from government use of facial recognition technology. This would... Read More

July 27, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
US Government Digital Currency Gets a Second Look in Congress

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. dollar risks losing its preeminence in international transactions unless the Federal Reserve moves promptly to sponsor... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. dollar risks losing its preeminence in international transactions unless the Federal Reserve moves promptly to sponsor a digital currency, economists told Congress Tuesday. Once again, the main competitive threat to U.S. currency comes from China, according to witnesses at a House Financial... Read More

July 26, 2021
by Dan McCue
Judge Grants FTC More Time to File Amended Complaint Against Facebook

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Friday gave the U.S. Federal Trade Commission until Aug. 19 to file an amended... Read More

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Friday gave the U.S. Federal Trade Commission until Aug. 19 to file an amended complaint in its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the agency asked for a three-week... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top