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Facebook Temporarily Stops Hong Kong Data Requests

  • July 06, 2020

Late Monday night, Hong Kong released new rules that give the police powers to take down internet posts and punish internet companies that do not comply with data requests.

The national security law, adopted in part to quash the anti-government demonstrations that have smoldered in Hong Kong for more than a year, was introduced last week on the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese control. Though officials insist that the sweeping and punitive new rules will affect only a small number of offenders, many worry that it will be used to widely curb dissent in Hong Kong, which, unlike mainland China, continues to enjoy an array of civil liberties.

“We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

“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 statement added. The suspension of data reviews also applies to the messaging app WhatsApp, the company said.

The law has already cast a pall over the city’s internet. Seeking safer ways to communicate, legions have downloaded the encrypted messaging app Signal, pushing it to the top of app store download lists. Others, fearing prosecution for speech crimes, have deleted online posts, likes and even whole accounts.

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