for a few days Hong Kong police seem to have succeeded in making the first international censorship attack.
The exiled activist group said the website they called for more democratic freedom in the city was removed Monday by Israeli company Wix hosting Nathan Law, one of the Post activists. A Twitter image of a letter written by Hong Kong police to Wix demanding the company demolish the facility. Otherwise, a fine and six months’ imprisonment will be imposed on the employee.
Three hours after Mr. Law Wix’s tweet was reversed, the company restored the site and issued an apology. A company spokeswoman said the site was accidentally deleted. And the company is reviewing the process of screening requests for removals.
Even if it’s a short period But the botched arrest was the first public example of a new exercise of power. To cut off online speech that happens far from the city. And it hints at the deepening digital tensions in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a long-standing bastion of internet freedom at the border of China’s heavily regulated internet. Hong Kong faces a new kind of online reality. which the national security law has used criminal words and provides broad surveillance and censorship powers. has squeezed online life in Hong Kong Police hung a camera outside a prominent politician’s house. Hack into another person’s Facebook account and demanding passwords and fingerprints from those arrested to gain access to their phones.
for technology companies The law also has the potential to change the way cities operate. It allows the police to arrest employees and confiscate their devices if Internet companies fail to comply with the rules and remove content that is considered illegal. Hong Kong police said in an emailed statement that they did not comment on some cases.
There has been a bigger clashes with bigger internet platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter, the three American companies said last year after the law went into effect that they had stopped responding to requests to take it off the government. Hong Kong It is unclear what would happen if some of the companies had offices in the city. Received the same letter as the Wix received.
It is unknown whether the police sent a similar letter to another company. But other private companies Many online hosting sites for users like Mr. Law could be targets. For example, Amazon runs some of the servers used by Wix, and they have servers in Hong Kong.
“Companies have to walk the tightrope between protecting their profits and maintaining their global reputation,” said Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who specializes in online communications. “This is part of a growing wave of Chinese censorship and repression. which is no longer confined within China’s borders. but more and more transnationalities.”
Mr Law, 27, said he and other activists has set up the facility from outside Hong Kong. The New York Times’ investigation of the digital path taken by the traffic coming to the site. Found to be hosted by a server in the United States.
Mr Law said he had been traveling with a representative at Wix since Monday when the website was initially missing, at which time the company notified him of a legal removal request. and the site violates the Company’s terms of service. Later, the company sent a letter from the Hong Kong police to Mr. Law. which said the facility posed a threat to national security.
The website has a letter addressed to fleeing Hong Kong residents urging them to unite to fight for democracy in the city. It also called for the repeal of the national security law. Call for police reform in Hong Kong and criticized China’s dictatorship by the Chinese Communist Party.
“We are committed to transforming Hong Kong’s democracy. to realize the freedom, independence and democracy promised to Hong Kong,” reads part of the letter. Website visitors can sign a document called “Hong Kong Charter 2021”
Mr Law said the website does not support violence. “It doesn’t do anything illegal in a liberal country. But the government can always refer to national security laws” to determine the site is illegal, he said.
“Yes, of course, we will face more similar events in the future,” he added.
in january Hong Kong’s largest mobile telecommunications company has barred access to a local Hong Kong website containing personal information of police officers. The move further exacerbated longstanding fears that censorship was as harsh as it was. with China to import Hong Kong in the next few years
This week, authorities said they would soon require residents to use their true identities when purchasing cellular services. A similar system in China is helping regulators end their anonymity online. and empowers Internet police to question and sometimes jail the most outspoken.
Although he was encouraged by Wix’s response, Tsui said the tech company’s resistance to police orders could drive authorities to take matters into their own hands. And just like in China Starting to Block Other Websites Directly
“It is difficult for Hong Kong,” he said, “if the government can’t find a platform to remove content. This increases the likelihood that a larger version of the Firewall will only be launched in the city.”
Targeting smaller platforms like Wix implies a strategy to start with smaller goals before more enforcement, Mr. Law said. issued a rule that protects online speech. “Otherwise we are relying on small companies to fight giant governments ourselves,” he said. “This is not true.”
Mr Law noted that one tweet did what three days of negotiating with the company couldn’t.
“I hope they can improve their practices for how to deal with these ridiculous requests from authoritarian regimes and defend their words without complying with them,” he said.
Lin Chiqing and Aaron Krolick research support