Home / World / Facebook and WhatsApp are not giving the Hong Kong authorities any user data for the time being

Facebook and WhatsApp are not giving the Hong Kong authorities any user data for the time being

Social media platforms said in statements on Monday that they would “pause” the review of requests for information from the Hong Kong government until further assessment of the impact of the national security law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts, is ongoing. “”

Facebook (FB) The company believes that “freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and supports the right of people to express themselves without fear of their safety or other effects”.
Twitter (TWTR) CNN Business has been confirmed that all requests from the Hong Kong authorities for data and information have been suspended while the law is under review.

“Like many organizations of public interest, leaders and civil society organizations, and industry peers, we have serious concerns about the development process and the full intent of this law,”

; said the spokesman.

The Beijing law last week criminalized secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers, a major change that critics call an attack on freedom of expression and the press that has long existed in Hong Kong but is banned in mainland China.

The vaguely defined rules extend officials’ powers to investigate, prosecute, and punish both foreigners and citizens for everything that is considered to promote government secession or subversion, such as “inciting hatred” against the central Chinese authority .

The law is an important change for Hong Kong, which has been officially handed over to China since 1997, based on the principle of Britain’s one country, two systems. The Internet is not censored in Hong Kong, Asia’s most important financial institution, and residents can access social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google (TogetL) that are prohibited on the mainland.
The Hong Kong security law could frighten press freedom
The Hong Kong authorities insist on freedom of speech and the press still exists in the city. But only the popular slogan “Free Hong Kong to revolutionize our times” could lead to incitement charges under the new law, they said last week.

The government has acted quickly to enforce the new law. The first person to be prosecuted under the law was refused bail after appearing in court on Monday.

Facebook and WhatsApp stated that they only respond to law enforcement requests for information in accordance with their terms of use, and only when the requests meet international human rights standards.

In its July-December 2019 transparency report, Facebook said it received 241 requests for information on 257 users or accounts from Hong Kong authorities. According to Facebook, 46% of these requests resulted in “some data produced”.
WhatsApp, which encrypts messages between users, would not comment on whether or how user data has been shared with Hong Kong authorities in the past. Instead, a CNN Business spokesman referred to a law enforcement information page that states that the company shares information only “in accordance with our terms of use and applicable laws”.

The Hong Kong police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

– Anna Kam and Sandi Sidhu contributed to this report

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