Monday, 6 July 2020

WHATSAPP STOPS PROCESSING POLICE REQUESTS FOR HONG KONG USERS' DATA AMID PROTESTS

Facebook Inc's WhatsApp messaging service said on Monday it had "paused" processing law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong.
WhatsApp is "pausing" such reviews "pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts," a spokesperson said in a statement.
The National Security Law allows authorities to punish crimes including secession, subversion and terrorism with up to life in prison.

WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook, is also reportedly taking similar decisions - pausing review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law.
“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. We have a global process for government requests and in reviewing each individual request, we consider Facebook’s policies, local laws and international human rights standards", a Facebook spokesperson said.
"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.”
WhatsApp is not the only messaging application to be refusing data requests from the Chinese government.It has been reported that Telegram is considering the same action.
“We understand the importance o
f protecting the right to privacy of our Hong Kong users under these circumstances,” Mike Ravdonikas, Telegram's head of marketing, told HKFP.
“Accordingly, Telegram does not intend to process any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city.”
The company apparently has not disclosed any data to Hong Kong authorities.
Offenses under the law have been criticised for their breadth, with no certainty for citizens about what actions may or may not be deemed as illegal.
Already, authorities have removed books by pro-democracy writers in Hong Kong‘s public libraries.

Libraries "will review whether certain books violate the stipulations of the National Security Law”, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said in a statement.
"While legal advice will be sought in the process of the review, the books will not be available for borrowing and reference in libraries."
Three days ago, the first person was charged under the new legislation.
“A 23-year-old local man has been charged with one count of inciting others for secession and one count of terrorist activity,” police said in a statement on Friday.
He allegedly drove a motorbike at police in Hong Kong.
The charge came less than a day after the government had legislated against the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", stating that it is illegal because it connotes separatism or subversion.

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