Several United States-based tech companies such as Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ GOOGL) GOOG, Facebook Inc FB, and Twitter Inc TWTR will no longer provide Hong Kong Law enforcement with user data.
On Monday, Facebook and Whatsapp, the company’s messaging app, said that they would suspend the review of Hong Kong government requests on user data, reported MarketWatch.
Both platforms will examine the recently-passed National Security Law and hold consultations with international human rights experts in the interim.
Twitter is also putting on hold all data and information requests from Hong Kong officials, while Google said that it had “paused production on any new data requests from Hong Kong authorities,” while it continues to study the new law.
China-based ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, said that the short-form video app would exit Hong Kong, and it too has stopped yielding to local government requests for user data.
Why It Matters
The National Security Law was introduced last week on the day marking the return of Hong Kong to China from Britain.
The Hong Kong government has said that if an internet company fails to comply with a court order to provide user data, it could be fined $13,000 and an employee of the erring firm could face six months in prison, reported the New York Times.
Under the new law, police have received sweeping powers and can order the deletion of posts that threaten national security.
Individuals who are ordered to remove internet posts under the law can face up to a year in prison if they refuse to comply.
Complying with the Hong Kong law may make bring U.S. firms under pressure at home, while not adhering could hurt the companies and put their local employees at risk of arrest.
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