Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet Inc. Threaten to Exit Hong Kong

Eve-Carrie
Eve-Carrie

Updated · Feb 21, 2022

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In a June 25th, 2021 6-page letter the Asian Internet Coalition (AIC), Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Twitter, amongst others, warned Hong Kong that they would terminate their services. The giant tech companies wrote to the data privacy commissioner Ada Chung Lai-ling regarding a proposal that would affect data privacy.

Liability Fears

Doxing (malicious sharing of information that people post in their private accounts) was prevalent during the 2019 protests. At the time, there were over 1000 cases involving exposure of personal details, including those of police.

The release of sensitive data like the residential locations and even schools their kids attended prompted the government to address the issue. 

In May, the city’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau proposed to amend its data protection laws. The proposal would supposedly combat the practice. 

If it went through, culprits would face up to five years imprisonment. In addition, they would have to pay fines amounting to one million Hong Kong Dollars ($128 000).

The internet companies, however, feel that if the country went ahead with its plans, they risk facing litigation. 

The letter went on to say that the move doesn’t align with trends and norms of the globe. Therefore, the only way for the companies to avoid the sanctions is to stop operating in the country. 

That would, however, create barriers to trade. It would also affect individuals and businesses that rely on them for marketing. 

AIC Doesn’t Support Doxing

The body made it clear that stopping doxing was a bad thing. It did stress that an ideal plan should have proportionality. The government must also build it on necessity principles.

If neither side backs down, users in the region could consider using VPNs to access the sites. 

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Eve-Carrie

Eve-Carrie

Eve is a lover of everything technology. Figuring out how software works and creating content to shed more light on the value it offers users is her favorite past time. When not evaluating apps or programs, she's busy trying out new healthy recipes, doing yoga, meditating, or taking nature walks with her little one.

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