- BBC News World
A bill to reform the data protection law in Hong Kong that is targeting the doxing it has put big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Twitter on alert.
“The doxing (also written as doxxing) consists of revealing identifying information about a person – such as their real name, home address, workplace or financial information – on the Internet, and then disclosing it to the public without the victim’s permission, “explains security firm Kaspersky Lab.
The Hong Kong authorities say that this activity has spread in their territory since the massive protests of 2019 and that they must stop it to protect the personal information of their citizens, and for this they are planning to reform the data protection law.
But Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a Singapore-based consortium of technology companies that includes Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple, expressed concern, as it believes that the proposed changes to the legislation will make it “too broad “.
Why this law and what changes does it propose?
In May, the Hong Kong government announced plans to change the data privacy law after, according to the same authorities, the doxing it would have been used extensively during the 2019 pro-democracy protests.
The tactic, according to the authorities, was used to make public the names of the police officers who participated in the repression of the protests and of judicial officials involved in legal actions against activists.
If the changes to the law are approved, it would pursue the doxing and would give authorities the power to force social media companies and websites to remove personal information from their platforms.
In 1997, the former British colony of Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule and is today, together with Macao, one of the two special administrative regions that exist in the People’s Republic of China.
But pro-democracy activists say Beijing is eroding freedoms, especially in the wake of a controversial national security law that was introduced last year. China denies these accusations.
“Barriers to trade”
In a letter addressed to the Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, dated June 25 but made public on Monday, the AIC expressed its concern for the employees of the companies that comprise it, since, if the new regulations, they could face fines and even jail sentences, he points out.
The proposal contemplates fines of up to HK $ 1 million (about US $ 130,000) and five years in jail for those who disclose data of other people without their authorization, which can be used to threaten or intimidate.
“The staff of the platforms working in Hong Kong is not responsible for the operations of the platforms, nor does it have the right of access or control to administer the contents “, reads the letter from the AIC.
“The only way to avoid these sanctions for tech companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong, thereby depriving Hong Kong businesses and consumers, while [el gobierno de Hong Kong] creates new barriers to trade, “the letter adds.
The AIC clarified to the BBC that the letter does not refer to any particular company and that no member of the consortium plans to leave Hong Kong.
For their part, Google and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the BBC. Facebook and Twitter referred the BBC to the original letter from the AIC.
“Fighting illegal doxing”
The text was addressed to the Hong Kong Office of the Personal Data Privacy Commissioner, which said in response that the changes would only affect the illegal practice of data protection. doxing.
The chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, stated that officials will meet with representatives of companies that are concerned about the changes and dismissed concerns when asked about it this Tuesday.
“We are fighting the doxing illegal and empowering privacy commissioners to investigate and conduct operations, that’s all, “the policy explained to journalists at a press conference.
He also said that his government would continue to accelerate the new legislation.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.