The Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, descended on Hong Kong on July 7. Hundreds of Hong Kongers could not access previously used platforms while others, fearing Chinese government, deleted their social media accounts.
China Unveils expanded powers
The latest move by the Chinese Communist Party unveiled expanded police powers under the new national security which was implemented in Hong Kong last week. Under the new legislation, the police censored online contacts and forced service providers to hand down user information and shut social media platforms. Soon after, the already anxious citizens rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the last year of protests.
While many political groups disbanded, other formerly outspoken activists quietly left social media. fearing that the same platform could be used against them. In 2019, Social media was widely used by pro-democracy protesters to mobilise residents for the demonstrations.
Internet under National Security Law
The law gives authorities the power to demand an individual’s data from service providers, remove or access contents deemed threatening to national security. Noncompliance can result in fines and imprisonment for company staff or individuals., international media reported. Police investigating national security cases can surveil communications and confiscate electronic devices.
Experts point out that China’s Great Firewall – which allows the government to inspect data as well as block IP addresses and domain names – could not be immediately replicated in Hong Kong, home to several private internet service providers and internet exchanges. While many others are worried that the measures could go even further than in mainland China. The law covers not only permanent residents and foreigners within Hong Kong but anyone seen as violating the law, regardless of where they are in the world.
Image credits: AP