Hong Kong begins talks on controversial ‘anti-doxxing’ privacy bill

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s legislature, which has no opposition get together, begins discussions on Wednesday on privateness legal guidelines tackling “doxxing habits” that some know-how giants worry are so broad and imprecise that they may hamper operations within the metropolis.

Critics of the laws, together with human rights and tech trade teams, say the measures could possibly be used to guard these in energy and goal civil society. Supporters say the laws was lengthy overdue to counter an issue festering for the reason that metropolis’s 2019 mass pro-democracy protests.


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Doxxing – publicly releasing non-public or figuring out details about a person or group – got here beneath scrutiny after particulars about police and judges had been launched on-line following the protests.

Some officers’ dwelling addresses and youngsters’s colleges had been uncovered by anti-government protesters, resulting in threats.

The federal government, which has pushed Hong Kong onto an more and more authoritarian path since Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety regulation in 2020, faces no official opposition after democratic lawmakers resigned en masse final yr in protest on the disqualification of colleagues.

Which means the regulation could possibly be handed shortly, empowering the Workplace of the Privateness Commissioner for Private Knowledge to analyze and prosecute doxxing.


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Violators embrace anybody who discloses a person’s private knowledge with out consent “with an intent to trigger specified hurt or being reckless” concerning the hurt brought on.

“Specified hurt” consists of harassment, risk, intimidation, bodily hurt, psychological hurt, inflicting the sufferer to be involved about security, and others. Violators may face fines of as much as HK$1 million ($128,736) and 5 years in jail.

The commissioner can apply for a warrant to enter and search premises and seize supplies for investigation, and might entry digital gadgets with out a warrant. It might additionally difficulty notices to take away content material or block entry to that content material, anyplace on the earth.

Asia Web Coalition, an advocacy group that features Google, Fb and Twitter, warned in a June 25 letter to the commissioner that tech corporations may cease providing their providers in Hong Kong if authorities went forward with the modifications.


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The coalition mentioned the measures had been “not aligned with international norms and developments,” and that any laws that might curb freedom of speech “should be constructed upon ideas of necessity and proportionality.”

“The federal government’s interpretation of doxxing will not be essentially the identical as that of know-how corporations,” an government at one of many tech corporations instructed Reuters on situation of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Privateness Commissioner Ada Chung has mentioned she had met representatives of the coalition this month. That they had “clarified” that they remained dedicated to Hong Kong and doxxing was a matter of great concern, she mentioned.

Representatives from Fb and Twitter referred Reuters to the Asia Web Coalition letter, and mentioned their corporations had nothing so as to add for now. Google didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.


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The federal government has mentioned that doxxing acts “weaponise private knowledge, and have brought on nice hurt within the society lately.”

Metropolis chief Carrie Lam has mentioned she was assured officers would have the ability to “allay considerations” raised by on-line platforms.

Between June 2019 and April 2021, the commissioner obtained greater than 5,700 doxxing-related complaints, the federal government mentioned. Police arrested 17 individuals on suspicion of doxxing throughout the interval, two of whom have been convicted, it mentioned. ($1 = 7.7678 Hong Kong {dollars}) (Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree and Marius Zaharia. Modifying by Gerry Doyle)


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