Failure to remove information harmful to national security brings legal liability: HK security chief

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/9 18:02:45

A billboard on the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Central area in Hong Kong, south China, June 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)

Publishers, network and service providers who fail to remove information that threatens national security should be held accountable, said Hong Kong's security head, after social media giants, such as Facebook, Twitter and Telegram decided to "pause" the sharing of data with Hong Kong authorities.

The newly enacted national security law for Hong Kong will smooth the way for relevant work in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong and provide a legal basis for law enforcement regarding national security, said John Lee Ka-Chiu, secretary for security in Hong Kong, in an exclusive interview with China Central Television (CCTV) on Wednesday.

He noted that the new implementation rules for the law published on Tuesday have provided a legal basis for action against crimes such as separatism.

The seven measures fixed loopholes in our current law enforcement, said Lee, citing as an example how police could apply for search warrants. Police have now been granted rights to remove information that incites others to commit crimes or engage in crimes that endanger national security. 

If such information is not removed, the publisher, network and service provider should hold legal accountability, said Lee. He noted that representatives of any organization operating in Hong Kong or foreign organizations should provide materials for police, so they can prepare for prevention if anything happens. Furthermore, police must be given information to assess their risks to national security. 

Lee made the remarks after some social media giants, such as Facebook, Twitter and Telegram, made high-profile announcements that they will "pause" the processing of the Hong Kong government's requests to access data, following some local and foreign media outlets' describing of the national security law enforcement rules as eroding Hong Kong's online privacy.

"I believe this is very important, as the national security law for Hong Kong has only been enacted for a week. Many things are new, many mechanisms are being established," Lee told the CCTV.

Lee said it is important to coordinate and face those new challenges, so as to establish mutual trust. 

The Hong Kong government released the implementation rules of an article from the national security law, which took effect on Tuesday. The rules give the police the power to remove online messages that endanger national security, and to request assistance, according to the fourth rule of the 43rd article of the national security law. 

Global Times


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