The Singapore-based Asia Internet Coalition, which is a group that legally represents Big Tech which consists of companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter, issued the threat to leave Hong Kong at the end of July if their new consumer protection laws aimed at protecting privacy come to be passed and imposed.
“The focus of the change in the law is to curb doxxing — the publication of people’s personal details including addresses and phone number online,” stated CNET, going on to add that “Doxxing has been a major problem for Hong Kong since mid-2019, around the same time protests kicked off against proposed changes to local extradition laws.”
“Doxxing activities which became rampant in Hong Kong since mid-2019 has tested the limits of morality and the law,” released the government of Hong Kong in a statement. “Doxxing acts, which are intrusive to personal data privacy and involve the weaponization of personal data, have caused great harm to the victims and their family members and the society at large in recent years.”
“In a typical doxxing case, the more common personal data which are disclosed include the name, photograph, Hong Kong identity card number, date of birth, occupation, phone number, and/or the address of the victim and, in some cases, their family members,” added the release. “Very often, the victims find themselves exposed to intimidation calls, cyberbullying or identity thefts and the effect of doxxing on the victims can be, as found by the court in a doxxing case, severe and long-lasting.”
Back on Monday, the Asia Internet Coalition issued a statement in the form of a letter that was previously sent to the government of Hong Kong back near the end of June, issuing the argument that these Big Tech giants would be leaving the region if these anti-doxxing laws were imposed, due to the fact that it would make them criminally liable for any such transgressions.
“Doxxing is a matter of serious concern, a view that AIC shares with the Panel on Constitutional Affairs’ (the “Panel”). We also appreciate the importance of privacy and the protection of personal information and are therefore committed to the principles that safeguard users’ personal identities through community standards on privacy violations We also believe that any anti-doxxing legislation, which can have the effect of curtailing free expression, must be built upon principles of necessity and proportionality,” stated the Asia Internet Coalition.
They then proceeded to outline a series of amendments to the proposed law, including a new definition of doxxing, while making the note that “The proposed anti-doxxing provision does not take into account legitimate situations where personal data may be disclosed without the data subject’s consent.”
They proceeded to “respectfully disagree” with the “expansive scope” of the law.
“From an industry standpoint, subjecting intermediaries and their local subsidiaries to criminal investigations and prosecution for doxxing offenses under the proposed amendments is a completely disproportionate and unnecessary response to doxxing, given that intermediaries are neutral platforms with no editorial control over the doxxing posts, and are not the persons publishing personal data,” stated the letter. “What the platforms do is to provide a service / noticeboard to users to post user-generated content. The proposal to subject such platforms to criminal liability is unnecessary and excessive, noting that these platforms are just making the service available to users for posting and should not be penalized for their users’ doxxing actions over which the platforms have no control.”
“We therefore ask that the PCPD exclude intermediaries and their subsidiaries from the scope of ‘persons’ and ‘premises’ that are subject to the PCPD’s powers to investigate and prosecute,” they concluded.