Hong Kong’s “doxing” crackdown intensifies concerns about companies

During the Hong Kong protests in 2019, human flesh searches (malicious sharing of personal information online) prevailed.

Protesters used Facebook and Telegram to broadcast detailed information about alleged violent police officers, and government supporters released private messages of opposition politicians, activists, and journalists.

“This weaponization is arguably the worst form of data [use] In the actions we have seen,” Say Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data of Hong Kong. According to the department’s annual report, from mid-June 2019 to March 2020, about 5,000 doxing incidents were reported or discovered to the commissioner. Some people who shared personal information about the police were sentenced to jail. Throughout 2020, as the protests subsided during the pandemic, the number of doxing cases has dropped to about 1,000.

Hong Kong is now taking further action on the revision of the data privacy law. But in doing so, it has raised concerns that the new measures will give the Hong Kong administration broad powers to combat freedom of speech, restrict access to public information, and restrict the way social media groups operate.

Companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have warned about the impact of policy changes that will give privacy commissioners tremendous powers to initiate criminal investigations and lawsuits against the local offices of social media companies because they have not deleted materials on their platforms. In fact, it may also make the employees of the technology group responsible for user content. Hong Kong has indicated that it may block access to websites that contain human flesh searches.

Technology group said They may be forced As a result of these changes, the provision of services in the territory was stopped. “The only way to avoid these sanctions… will avoid investing and providing services in Hong Kong,” said the Asian Internet Alliance, which represents the technology group.

These proposals mean that sharing personal information online that may cause “psychological harm” to the subject will result in severe penalties, including up to five years in prison. AIC stated that this is an overly broad and arbitrary term that cannot be used as an appropriate legal test.

Among other measures, company directors will be allowed to conceal some of their personal information at the Hong Kong Companies Registry, such as a complete ID number.

Which resulted in attention Directors can use different language versions of their names to conceal their identities, thereby increasing the possibility of fraud. After strong protests from corporate governance groups, investors, lawyers, and accountants (who use the register for investigations and due diligence), some people, such as company liquidators, can apply for full access to this information.

Hong Kong has reasons to take action against the misuse of public personal data. Hong Kong’s data privacy law lags behind international standards, especially in the case of large corporate data breaches. And the harm to individuals who become victims of doxing should not be minimized.

However, critics say that Hong Kong’s policy response may severely restrict the free flow of information for legitimate purposes. This will further damage Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business center.

A senior adviser to a technology company said: “This is an incredible way of operating in mainland China, designed to give the authorities a lot of discretion in how to enforce the rules.”

In mainland China, Suppress Last week, Didi demonstrated on the ride-hailing app how the mission of protecting data privacy has a huge impact. In this case, the company will lose billions of dollars in value.

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, refuted concerns about the implementation of the new policy, saying that Hong Kong only wanted to target “unlawful human flesh searches.” However, her guarantee may not bring much comfort to international business.I’m Likened to The National Security Law introduced last year has fundamentally changed the legal structure of Hong Kong.

For international companies operating in Hong Kong, the new measures involve general issues-how will the Hong Kong authorities apply the law? Do any actions regarding privacy comply with common law norms?

“There was confidence in the past,” said a senior adviser to a technology company, “but this certainty has been eroded.”


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