Big Tech’s Asian lobby warns Hong Kong that its anti-doxing laws could harm the economy • The Register


The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a lobby group from Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and SAP among its members, has written to the Hong Kong Office of the Personal Data Protection Commissioner (PCPD) explaining objections to proposed SAR anti-doxing laws.

The Hong Kong government announced changes to its Personal Data Protection Regulation (PDPO) in May 2021 after doxxing – the unauthorized disclosure of personal data – became widespread in protests for democracy. Some used the tactic to designate police and court officials to curtail protests or direct cases, while others used doxxing to identify journalists, protesters or activists.

The proposed laws aim to ban Doxxing and give the Hong Kong government the power to instruct social media platforms and website owners to remove personal information posted by Doxxers.

The AIC wrote to the PCPD and published on June 25th [PDF] his letter of July 5th.

The document outlines a number of objections to the proposed legislation. His main point of criticism is that individual employees of social media platforms or websites could be prosecuted if doxx content is not removed.

The AIC argues that it is not appropriate to hold employees accountable and that even local outposts of social media and web companies should not be the target of action. Instead, the letter demands that “the actual operating company of the online service platform outside Hong Kong” is the goal of all measures.

This suggests that lawsuits would have to be brought in all jurisdictions – a more expensive and complicated process than sending a letter to a Hong Kong office.

The letter also warns that the current bill could harm Hong Kong’s economy, as follows:

The letter also opposes the law for other reasons, including:

  • The definition of doxxing as “psychological damage” is too broad;
  • The PDPO may not be the best legal tool for dealing with doxxing;
  • The law makes no exception for legitimate unauthorized disclosure of personal information in circumstances such as media coverage or when disclosure is in the public interest;
  • Proposed “rectification notices” that would be sent to notify you of deactivation requests are excessive and unnecessary as social platforms already have processes in place to respond to deactivation requests.

The AIC letter was published two days after Hong Kong’s most prominent newspaper, Apple daily, ceased operations when its assets were frozen and many of its employees and managers were arrested. The newspaper had a decidedly pro-democracy stance and stood out in a media industry that seldom protests the Hong Kong government and its increasing deference to Beijing. ®


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