Big Tech Threatens to Leave Hong Kong Over Anti-Doxxing Proposal
Facebook, Twitter, and Google say they will stop providing services in Hong Kong if the city moves forward with a proposal to criminalize doxxing.
Doxxing is the act of posting private information about a person online so people can harass them. Incidents of doxxing surged in 2019 when HongKongers took to the streets to protest an extradition bill.
Doxxing in Hong Kong has “tested the limits of morality and the law” said one official.
Under the proposed changes, punishment for doxxing could be fines of up to $128,000 and five years’ imprisonment. Representatives for Facebook, Twitter, and Google fear their staff in Hong Kong could be prosecuted for doxxing offenses committed by the platform’s users.
“The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering the services in Hong Kong,” warned a letter from the Asia Internet Coalition (a tech alliance including Facebook, Twitter, and Google).
The coalition takes issue with the proposal’s vague wording and fears it will affect freedom of speech. Coalition members also say it’s unfair to hold staff in Hong Kong responsible for US-based companies’ failure to remove content.
“If not managed with common sense, [the new rule] could make it potentially a risk to post anything related to another individual on the Internet,” explains local business owner Paul Haswell, such as an unflattering photograph of someone posted as a joke.
Author’s Note: This proposal is part of China’s campaign to silence dissent in Hong Kong in preparation for full takeover. Already, residents in the city have abandoned social media or started to censor themselves in fear of retaliation from Beijing. It is also ironic that tech companies are throwing a fit over this proposal. They have violated the privacy of millions of people in the United States.