WhatsApp stops processing police requests for Hong Kong users' data amid protests

Messaging app Telegram has reportedly taken the same decision.

Adam Smith
Monday 06 July 2020 13:52
Comments
Hong Kong: What is happening in the Asian economic hub?

Facebook Inc's WhatsApp messaging service said on Monday it had "paused" processing law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong.

WhatsApp is "pausing" such reviews "pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The National Security Law allows authorities to punish crimes including secession, subversion and terrorism with up to life in prison.

It has been met with protests across Hong Kong.

WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook, is also reportedly taking similar decisions - pausing review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law.

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions. We have a global process for government requests and in reviewing each individual request, we consider Facebook’s policies, local laws and international human rights standards", a Facebook spokesperson said.

"We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.”

WhatsApp is not the only messaging application to be refusing data requests from the Chinese government.

It has been reported that Telegram is considering the same action.

“We understand the importance of protecting the right to privacy of our Hong Kong users under these circumstances,” Mike Ravdonikas, Telegram's head of marketing, told HKFP.

“Accordingly, Telegram does not intend to process any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city.”

The company apparently has not disclosed any data to Hong Kong authorities.

Offenses under the law have been criticised for their breadth, with no certainty for citizens about what actions may or may not be deemed as illegal.

Already, authorities have removed books by pro-democracy writers in Hong Kong‘s public libraries.

Libraries "will review whether certain books violate the stipulations of the National Security Law”, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said in a statement.

"While legal advice will be sought in the process of the review, the books will not be available for borrowing and reference in libraries."

Three days ago, the first person was charged under the new legislation.

“A 23-year-old local man has been charged with one count of inciting others for secession and one count of terrorist activity,” police said in a statement on Friday.

He allegedly drove a motorbike at police in Hong Kong.

The charge came less than a day after the government had legislated against the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", stating that it is illegal because it connotes separatism or subversion.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in