Web giants will not heed, for now, the Hong Kong security law

Microsoft, Zoom, Facebook, Google and Twitter are vetting the implications of the new law for their users. The legislation requires them to work with investigations. For analysts, tech giants are taking their time, but in the past, they have worked with China. This might change if the Trump administration intervenes.

07/08/2020, 15.48

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The list of high-tech giants that will not provide for now Hong Kong authorities with information on their users is growing.

Yesterday, Microsoft and Zoom joined Facebook, Google and Twitter, stating that they want to assess the impact of China’s new national security law on Hong Kong, including human rights, before making a final decision.

So far, the major US tech companies have operated in Hong Kong without restrictions, receiving only a small number of requests regarding users.

The new legislation, which criminalises separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, require the telecom giants to work with the police of the former British colony.

In order to conform with the security law, they must close the personal accounts of people under investigation, share their personal data, and delete posts and comments.

For analysts, the multinationals are taking their time, as they face the dilemma of saving their business interests in China and Hong Kong or protect the rights of their users as required by the United States government.

In the past Apple, Yahoo and Cisco gave in to Beijing’s demands, sharing customer data and information, and taking part in building its firewall. The latter allows Chinese authorities to control internet traffic, and in some cases, led to the arrest of political activists and journalists.

In June, Zoom, the video-conferencing programme, suspended the accounts of some activists for commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. At present, at the request of the Chinese government, the US-based company is studying ways to exclude Chinese residents from using its service.

According to several observers, the picture could change if the Trump administration imposes sanctions on US technology companies that work with the Chinese government in implementing the new security law.

Technological dominance is a key aspect of the great geopolitical battle between the two superpowers.

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