The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR said that the government will continue to push ahead with the legislation of the privacy ordinance despite the concerns and worries it has raised. Earlier, the Internet Consortium Asia warned that if Hong Kong goes ahead with plans to amend the privacy ordinance, technology companies may stop providing services in Hong Kong to avoid criminal prosecution of their employees. That would mean Hong Kong moving further toward mainland China and into an era without Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was asked to respond to Internet companies’ concerns about legislation on privacy regulations at her regular weekly press conference on Tuesday (July 6, 2021). She responded by citing Hong Kong’s national security law as an example, saying that any amendment to the law would cause anxiety and concern, but the legislation did not result in people “smearing” the legislation in the first place. She said many people were traumatized by the phenomenon of undercovering on the Internet, so there was widespread support for amending privacy-related regulations to combat illegal undercovering.
The issue of “whistleblowing” came under scrutiny during the anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019 when police officers were targeted after their details were posted online. “Undercovering,” also known as “people searching,” refers to the public release of private or identifying information about an individual or organization.
Anti-government protesters have also revealed details of the home addresses of some police officers and the schools their children attend, some of whom have threatened them and their families online.
Beijing skipped Hong Kong’s legislative process a year ago and began imposing national security laws in Hong Kong directly. In the year since, Hong Kong’s freedom has shrunk abruptly and many pro-democracy activists have been jailed.
In a June 25 letter to Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Ada Chung Lai-ling, the Asia Internet Coalition expressed concern that the government’s privacy regulations could threaten freedom of expression, saying, “We believe that any anti-stigmatization legislation that may limit freedom of expression must be based on principles of necessity and proportionality. “
The Coalition is concerned that this new legislation could expose employees of Internet companies to legal liability for the disclosure of personal information online, stating that “the only way to avoid these sanctions against Internet technology companies is to avoid investing and providing services in Hong Kong that would leave Hong Kong businesses and consumers unserved.”