Tech firms are already at odds with the Hong Kong government, and tensions appear to be rising. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Asia Internet Coalition, a tech alliance that includes Facebook, Google, and Twitter, has warned Hong Kong that if officials move forward with data protection law amendments that could hold companies liable for doxxing campaigns, companies will cease operations in the territory.
The tech titans are concerned that employees may face criminal investigations or even charges if users share personal information online, even if they did not intend to cause harm.
According to the Coalition, this would be a “completely disproportionate and unnecessary response” that could chill free speech. Instead, the alliance proposed that Hong Kong limit the scope of violations.
The letter’s existence was acknowledged by Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, who stated that doxxing had pushed the “limits of morality and the law.”
The Commissioner also insisted that the new laws would have “no bearing” on free speech and would not deter foreign investment in the Hong Kong region. The amendments may be approved before the end of the legislative session.
The fear, as you might expect, is that pro-China officials will use the new laws to silence dissent. During the 2019 protests, pro-democracy activists frequently doxxed police officers and others.
And there is concern that the revised laws will be worded so broadly that simply sharing a photo of someone in a public place will land both sharers and tech companies in hot water.
It may be more difficult to hold police officers accountable for violence or to criticize officials for anti-democratic policies.