City officials have announced plans to pass a new law targeting “doxxing” – the act of posting someone’s private information online so that they can be harassed by others.
But the broad wording of the proposed legislation has scared big tech companies who fear being held accountable and their employees sued for user content.
They detailed their concerns in a letter sent to the Hong Kong government by the Asia Internet Coalition, which includes tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Apple.
“The introduction of sanctions targeting individuals is not aligned with global norms and trends,” warns the letter, dated June 25 but made public this week.
“The only way to avoid these sanctions for tech companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong, thereby depriving Hong Kong businesses and consumers, while also creating new barriers to the market. trade, ”he added.
Asked about the warning on Tuesday, the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, dismissed the concerns.
“We target illegal doxxing and empower privacy commissioners to investigate and conduct operations, that’s it,” she told reporters.
Lam compared the new data privacy powers to a national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year to stamp out dissent after huge and often violent protests for democracy in 2019.
Lam said the security law had been “slandered and vilified”.
“It is the same case for the law on privacy,” she concluded.
She added that the city’s privacy commission would be happy to meet with representatives from the tech industry to address their concerns.
But she hinted that her government was determined to move forward with accelerating new legislation.
“Of course, that would be ideal to relieve that anxiety when we are developing legislation. But sometimes that has to be demonstrated through implementation,” she said.