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HK authorities mull ban of targeted doxxing platforms

HK authorities mull ban of targeted doxxing platforms

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The Government last year amended the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (“PDPO”) to criminalise “doxxing”. Ada Chung, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, revealed in Legco panel on Constitutional Affairs earlier that a blacklist would be considered for targeted platforms.  Local media reported that the popular messaging app Telegram might be targeted since more than 200 doxxing attacks are found every week, but the platform refused to delete relevant messages upon request from The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. 

In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson of Telegram said: “Telegram supports free speech and the right of all users to protest peacefully. However, content that discloses personal information without consent (doxxing) is not allowed and routinely removed. These content moderation policies are universal and apply to every country.”

Commenting on the news, Francis Fong, Honorary Chairman of Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing said: “The Russian Authorities tried to ban Telegram few years ago but to no avail, which reveals that the platform is designed to avoid any possible sanctions.”

He also added that it is impractical to prohibit public access to the app, as citizens can always regain access to the platform via virtual private network (VPN), or switching to another social media site.

Duncan Chiu, Legco member for the Technology and Innovation functional constituency said that he hasn’t heard of any official plans to ban Telegram by the authorities, “I believe every platform has the obligation to abide to the law in every country, for example Facebook would adjust its regulation on messaging in different jurisdictions.” he added.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Quat, a member of Legco, also seconded that she has not heard of any rumors on restricting public access to Telegram, but she agreed that the government should take any appropriate actions to doxxing activities.  “At the end all internet users need to follow the law.” she added.  

The office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said it will not comment on its enforcement actions in individual cases, “Depending on the scale and intensity of the doxxing messages in question, the PCPD will take appropriate enforcement actions to combat unlawful doxxing behaviour in order to minimise the harms done to the victims”, the office emphasised.

The office also said that the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong, is empowered under the PDPO to take cessation action in relation to a doxxing message to remove the message from a relevant platform, or cease or restrict access by any person to the message via the corresponding platform which the message was published, “Contravention of a cessation notice constitutes a criminal offence under the PDPO,” it added.

Related articles: 
Telegram takes multiple swipes at WhatsApp after recent surge in users
Hong Kong protests drive Telegram installations

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