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Google, Twitter And Facebook Eye Leaving Hong Kong If Data Laws Pass

Facebook, Twitter and Google are among the big companies threatening to quit offering services in Hong Kong if the authorities’ proposed changes pass, making those companies responsible for malicious sharing of individuals’ data on the internet, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote Monday (July 5).

An industry group sent a letter saying the planned rules could be dangerous and that staff could be put at risk for criminal investigations.

The controversy comes after the May announcement from Chinese regulators, which would amend the city’s data protection laws and fight against doxing, a practice referring to releasing personal information online so that the doxed individual could be harassed.

“The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering the services in Hong Kong,” the companies said in a June 25 letter, previously not released, from Singapore’s Asia Internet Coalition.

Hong Kong’s new rules call for a flux of punishments for users who perform doxing activities, which could constitute up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars (approximately $128,740) and up to five years in prison.

The companies have tussled with China law before, particularly as the country has come down hard against political dissent, and big tech companies recently also nixed Hong Kong request processing due to China’s imposition of the national security law on the city, WSJ wrote. And, according to Jeff Paine, the managing director for Asia Internet Coalition, though doxing is bad, the wording of China’s law could end up punishing locally based staff and companies not involved with the practice directly.

China recently passed a new Data Security Law, which will go into effect on September 1 of this year. This will force big tech companies, including big names like Tencent, Alibaba and others, to share information with the government.

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