Facebook, Google, Twitter block Hong Kong govt from accessing user data

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jul 07, 2020, 07:29 AM(IST)

(File photo) Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong Photograph:( AFP )

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"We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions," the spokesman said.

Facebook, Google and Twitter said Monday they have stopped giving information on users to Hong Kong's government or police force, following China's imposition of draconian security law, according to AFP report.

The pause at leading online social network Facebook and its popular messaging service WhatsApp would remain in place "pending further assessment" of the new national security law, and would include "formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts," the report said quoting a statement by a Facebook spokesman.

"We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions," the spokesman said.

Also read: Five ways Hong Kong has changed under China's security law

Twitter and Google told that they too would not comply with information requests by Hong Kong authorities in the immediate future, the report added.

"Like many public interest organizations, civil society leaders and entities, and industry peers, we have grave concerns regarding both the developing process and the full intention of this law," Twitter reportedly told AFP.

"Twitter cares and is committed to protecting the people using our service and their freedom of expression."

China last week imposed the security law on the restive city of around 7.5 million people, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Also read: China has no legal authority to enact security law for Hong Kong: Bar Association

The law stipulates that trials can be held behind closed doors without juries, with offenders subject to a maximum of a life sentence.

The legislation, which has sent a wave of fear through the territory, has criminalized dissenting opinions such as calls for independence or autonomy.

"Last Wednesday, when the law took effect, we paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities, and we'll continue to review the details of the new law," a Google spokesperson said.

Digital rights group ProPrivacy called Facebook's move "a win for both digital privacy and human rights in the region."

"With the stakes so high, and the punishments so severe, it is great news to see big tech companies like WhatsApp pushing back in favour of democracy and freedom of expression," the group said.

However, it noted the move could lead to WhatsApp being blocked in Hong Kong, as it has been in mainland China.

(With inputs from AFP) 

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