Could the rapidly changing business environment in Hong Kong affect services there from Facebook, Twitter and Google?
The most vexing changes for these mega-companies involve those in Hong Kong’s data protection laws, according to the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC).
The group, based in Singapore, includes those three businesses among its members.
In a June 25 memo the AIC sent to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data, Ada Chung Lai-ling, it takes issue with the city restricting “doxxing” — sharing customers’ private information.
The Hong Kong government, via legislation, seems to be aggressively attacking the trouble, which it says has been widespread for the past couple of years.
The AIC worries about the government being able to prosecute “the local staff of overseas platforms in case of failure to comply with the authorities’ removal requests.”
The legislation indicates offenders face a fine of up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars (about $128,700) and imprisonment of up to five years upon conviction.
According to the AIC memo: “If it remains the (government’s) intention to hold the employees of the local subsidiaries or entities liable for doxxing content, we seek clarification on the legal basis of doing so,” and that the options for the big businesses may include refraining “from investing and offering their services in Hong Kong … . Thus, the possibility of prosecuting subsidiary employees will create uncertainties for businesses and affect Hong Kong’s development as an innovation and technology hub.”
The AIC did underscore that the companies have no set plans to consider leaving Hong Kong.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said at a press conference Tuesday, “there is wide support that doxxing should be legislated against. … If online companies express their concern, I am sure the privacy commissioner is more than happy to meet with them and to listen to their concerns.”