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Hong Kong Moves to Ease Fears as Industry Group says Facebook, Google, Twitter May Pull Out of City Over New Privacy Law

Chief Executive Cary Lam, credit: Gavin Bobo, wikipedia
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SELINA CHENG | HONG KONG FREE PRESS

Chief Executive Carrie Lam says free speech concerns expressed by an industry group that has amongst its members Facebook, Twitter and Google over a new anti-doxxing law “will be proven wrong”. The new legislation simply aims to tackle malicious online behaviour, Lam said.

Hong Kong has sought to reassure US tech and social media giants after they threatened to pull out of the city over fears that a new anti-doxxing law will negatively impact free speech in the SAR.

City Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the concerns raised by Facebook, Twitter and Google were unwarranted and would be proved wrong as the new law takes effect.

In addition, Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner, Ada Chung, said officials from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) would meet with representatives of a US tech and social media industry group to hear their concerns. 

On Tuesday, Lam said: “It is preferable to be able to assuage concerns and worries during the legislative process but sometimes through practice — such as the national security law forum yesterday — we can see that the national security law did not lead to situations as described by people who smeared it. It is the same for the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.”

logo facebook headquarters singapore social media reaction like
Credit: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an industry group with members — including Google, Facebook and Twitter — warned the Hong Kong government in a letter that the companies might stop offering services in the city if their employees were made criminally liable for their users’ doxxing behaviour.

The letter called the proposed law a “completely disproportionate and unnecessary response” and said it could harm free expression or make “innocent acts of sharing information online” unlawful.

Doxxing is broadly defined as the act of searching for and publishing private or identifying information about a particular individual on the internet with malicious intent.

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