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Lawmakers express "deep concern" over Blizzard's Hong Kong protest response



 The words Free HK have been photoshopped onto the face of a video game character.
Enlarge / Mei from Overwatch icon of the Hong Kong protests in the wake of Blizzard's decision.

A bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers has signed a letter expressing "deep concern" over Activision Blizzard's recent decision to punish Ng "flashback" Wai Chung after the Hearthstone Hong Kong protests last week. "The letter reads, in part."

Blizzard originally banned the Hong Kong-based player for a year and with his prize money after he said "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!" in Chinese during the livestreamed event. That penalty was later reduced to a six-month suspension and Chung's prize money was reinstated.

Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, Blizzard Blizzard "We have the opportunity to reverse it." [InthestrongesttermstoreconsideryourdecisionwithrespecttoMrChungRonWyden(D-Ore)SenMarcoRubio(R-Fla)RepAlexandriaOcasio-Cortez(1

965-1600)TheLegislativeDeclarationDNY)RepMikeGallagher(R-Wis)AndRepTomMalinowski(DNJ)

Elsewhere in the letter, cite an employee walkout in protest of Blizzard's decision and calls for boycotts of the company among "gamers around the world" as additional reasons for Blizzard to reverse itself. The letter also makes reference to the NBA to shutdown apps and public discussion of the Hong Kong protests under Chinese pressure.

"Because your company is such a search a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms, "the letter says. "As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values-like freedom of speech and thought-or to give in to Beijing's demands in order to preserve market access."

Overwatch on the switch and ahead of planned protests of the company at November's BlizzCon fan gathering. Blizzard what is forced to punish a college Hearthstone This week for flashing a sign in support of the Hong Kong protestors during a live streamed match.

The game industry at large is separately facing congressional pressure over-the-counter in-game items via randomized loot boxes. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)

A bipartisan group of senators introduced sweeping legislation into practice, and the FTC continues to look into it.
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