Hong Kong leader dismisses tech company fears over privacy law

Hong Kong’s leader on Tuesday brushed aside a warning from major tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, that they could leave the financial center if authorities go ahead with a new privacy law.

City authorities have unveiled plans to pass a new law targeting “doxxing” — publishing someone’s private information online so they can be harassed by others.

But the broad wording of the proposed legislation has terrified major tech companies who fear they could be held liable and their employees sued for users’ content.

They set out their concerns in a letter the Asia Internet Coalition sent to the Hong Kong government, which includes tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Apple.

“Introducing sanctions targeting individuals is not in line with global norms and trends,” warned the letter, dated June 25 but made public this week.

“The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong, which deprives companies and consumers in Hong Kong, while also creating new barriers to trade,” it added. ready.

Asked about the warning on Tuesday, city chief executive Carrie Lam dismissed those concerns.

“We’re targeting illegal doxxing and empowering the privacy commissioners to investigate and conduct operations, that’s all,” she told reporters.

Lam compared the new data privacy powers to a national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year to stamp out dissent after massive and often violent democracy protests in 2019.

Lam said the security law was “defamatory and vilified”.

“It’s the same case for the privacy law,” she concluded.

She added that the city’s privacy commission would like to meet with representatives from the tech industry to address any concerns.

But she suggested her government was determined to continue to speed up the new legislation.

“Of course it would be ideal to allay this fear when we make the legislation. But sometimes it has to be demonstrated through implementation,” she said.

(AFP)

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