Monday, August 8, 2022

Facebook halts review of China’s requests for user data

Social media giant Facebook on Monday said it would temporarily stop processing Hong Kong government requests for user data as the company reviews the controversial national security law.

The assessment of the law would include human rights considerations, the company said. Beijing drafted and passed the legislation late last month that targets acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison for the most serious offences.

The move came after months of social upheaval triggered by opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill but that morphed into wider demands, including universal suffrage.

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The move has also raised fears that it would undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong and crush dissent.

“We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts,” Facebook wrote in a statement, according to a report in the New York Times.

“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,” the statement added.

The suspension of data reviews also applies to the messaging app WhatsApp, the company said, according to the New York Times report.

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