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Google, Facebook, Twitter threaten to pull out of Hong Kong over privacy plans

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Google, Facebook, Twitter threaten to pull out of Hong Kong over privacy plans


An association of companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook is warning that the internet giants and their services will pull out of Hong Kong.

The companies warned that their services will be pulled out if a planned tightening of data protection was implemented.

The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) criticised the proposed doxxing legislation as too vague and disproportionate, according to a letter to Hong Kong’s data protection commissioner, Ada Chung Lai-ling, posted on the AIC website on Tuesday.

The privacy law was proposed after the personal information of police officers, and other public figures including the names, addresses, photographs of individuals were circulated online during the social unrest of 2019 and 2020.

The publishing of such private information without permission is what is known as doxxing.

AIC said it was “unnecessary and excessive’’ to prosecute local employees as intended if their overseas-based companies did not remove content from their platforms as required by authorities.

“The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong, thereby depriving Hong Kong businesses and consumers, whilst also creating new barriers to trade,’’ the letter said.

The industry association shared the serious concern about “doxxing’’ but stressed that laws against it must be built upon principles of necessity and proportionality.

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