In a rare show of solidarity, some of the biggest social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp, along with the likes of Google, have launched a non cooperation movement against Hong Kong authorities. This comes after Beijing passed a new set of laws that infringe the right to privacy and free speech of their users.
The new law, which is nothing short of barbarism, has changed the entire landscape of the Hong Kong law enforcement. The region was passed down to China by the colonial government in 1997, but with certain liberties. First and foremost, the country was supposed to provide the people of Hong Kong the freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judiciary and some democratic rights – freedoms that no other part of mainland China has.
However, China came to the conclusion that it doesn’t like the idea, and passed a new set of laws that basically lets Beijing dictate what goes in the region. The details of this new provision were kept a secret, until it came into effect on 30th June. Mainland China managed to criminalise secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign entities. However, it has not evaded the public eye how the Chinese regime conveniently defines its crimes.
Not only will those found engaged in the aforementioned activities be liable to life in prison (worst case), but the power to define who is guilty and who is not lies with Beijing, and not Hong Kong. Thus, the baton is basically given back to mainland China, and the “one country two systems” initiative started by the colonial government has been destroyed. Moreover, the law adds that some trials may take place behind closed doors, which is a slap in the face of the judiciary of the country.
Thus, social media companies have decided that partnering up with Hong Kong law officials might not be in their best interest at the moment, and have launched a no cooperation movement. Facebook, Twitter and Telegram have expressed strong censure for the new laws, and have said that they will not be giving the authorities any information.
Telegram was the first company to take a stand against the Chinese regime and said that “any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city.” A representative for the messaging service said in a statement that the company “has never shared any data with the Hong Kong authorities in the past.”
Facebook was not far behind, even though it is facing its own share of criticism in the form of an ad ban from many companies. “We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a Monday statement.
Even WhatsApp, one of the most popular chat apps in Hong Kong, said that the company will not be entertaining requests for user data “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human-rights due diligence and consultations with human-rights experts.”
TikTok, an app that originates from ByteDance, a part of mainland China itself, has decided to pull out of Hong Kong and will disappear from Google Play Store and Apple’s App store.
Google and Twitter have made similar decisions, and said that they would not be complying to any requests for user data being made by the city.
The move is being hailed as a great initiative by the residents of Hong Kong, who find themselves being oppressed by the government. The law, which basically allows the government to control the internet scene in Hong Kong, just as it does in other parts of China, undermines the principles of free speech. Thus, companies are ready to take the fight against China, and seeing how Hong Kong is a small market, even pull out of it.