A new law proposed by Hong Kong’s government would give the city’s privacy watchdog the power to request malicious sharing of individuals’ information be removed from websites, even if the content is hosted outside Hong Kong.
Hong Kong authorities revealed details of the bill on Friday, effectively criminalising doxxing activities – disclosing personal information without consent in order to harm them.
The first tier offence is a summary offence for disclosing personal data without the data subject’s consent, punishable by a fine of up to HK$100,000 (£9,407) and two years in jail.
For the second tier offence, doxxing that causes specific harm to the subject or family member may result in a maximum fine of HK$1m and 5-year imprisonment.
Under the proposed bill, the city’s privacy commissioner for personal data will be empowered to order arrests without a warrant and demand a cessation of sharing doxxing content by service providers in Hong Kong and overseas.
Violation of cessation notices could face up to 2-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of HK$100,000.
The government reiterated the legislation only concern vicious doxxing acts and provide the privacy commissioner with appropriate enforcement powers.
The legislative council in Hong Kong will start debating the bill on Wednesday, and it is expected the amendment would be passed by the absolute majority of pro-establishment lawmakers.
Earlier this month, Facebook, Google and Twitter have threatened to withdraw from Hong Kong if the local authorities push ahead of the anti-doxxing law. An industry group representing the tech giants was concerned the legislation could put staff at risk of criminal investigations or prosecutions.
“The only way to avoid these sanctions for technology companies would be to refrain from investing and offering the services in Hong Kong,” the Singapore-based Asia Internet Coalition wrote in a letter.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration issued an advisory warning for US businesses in Hong Kong on Friday, highlighting companies could face risks associated with electronic surveillance without warrants and the surrender of data to authorities under the national security law.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam slammed the advisory as “sweeping and totally unsubstantiated”, criticising the US administration blatantly intervened in the internal affairs of China.
“Hong Kong remains an open and free economy, underpinned by the rule of law and a robust regulatory regime. Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre has not changed, and business confidence has not been shaken,” Lam added.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Hong Kong stated the city still has a crucial role in playing as an international business hub after the business warning was published.
“Hong Kong has one of the best-developed infrastructures in Asia. It has an internationally recognized system of commercial law. It has a more open and sophisticated digital infrastructure than many of its Asian peers,” said AmCham, with over 1,400 members in the city.