back to article Social media giants move to defy Hong Kong's new national security law

Social media businesses are making moves to block Hong Kong authorities from accessing their user data, days after Beijing imposed a new national security law on the territory. Facebook, Google, and Twitter said late last night they will temporarily block Hong Kong's law-enforcement agencies from accessing user data after the …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    The equation to be evaluated ...

    by Google, Facebook & pals is increasingly looking like: China or The Rest of the World. If China pushes too hard they might find themselves cut adrift.

    Good from the point of view of preserving freedoms, but this would also increase the isolation of those who live in the totalitarian state that we call China.

    I do not know what the answer is.

    Remember: it is not just China, other oppressive states also exist.

    1. adrian727

      Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

      No, Google, Facebook & pals were blocked by China in the first place. It is now China closing its only window named Hong Kong.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

      Yup, the UK is slowing removing our rights. Free movement was never written into UK law, Free speech is dead. and soon, as the police get more and more powers, due process will be dead too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

        Those who are down-voting your post are blissfully unaware that while they are all busy making noises and keeping their eyes on Chinese government, some democratic government is silently positioning at their back to bend them over. And let me tell you, it will hurt. A lot.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

        As I have said before, these powers that we are all upset that China has just given itself have already existed in the UK for many years in one form or another. So it's a bit rich to get upset because another country has followed our lead. Rather intead try to get those powers recinded here.

        If you think I am exagerating, maybe you can tell me of a power that the new Chinese law gives their police that the UK police have not had for a long time (perhaps after jumping through a few very minor hoops).

        The UK police can search your house or any premises controlled by you without a judicial warrant after they arrest you (no need to charge you with a crime) - and the police can trivially concoct a reason to arrest anyone if they really want to do so ("I detected the smell of canabis"). In fact an arrest is often made for the main purpose of being able to carry out a search without getting a warrant. Stop & search does not even need the suspicion that a crime has been commited and can be done on the whim of a police officer. POCA allows the seizure of all the assets of anyone suspected but not convicted of a crime. DNA and fingerprints are taken from anyone arrested in the UK - whether or not they are subsequently charged with a crime. After arrest, a person will usually be placed on police bail, which can have heaps of conditions attached, including forbidding the person to travel outside a particular area. An extension to police bail must be approved by a court after 3 months - but in practise will be rubber-stamped for at least a year. I know a teenager arrested for shop-lifting who was placed on police bail for 18 months, during which time she was prohibited from entering any shop. At the end of which time the case was dropped with no further action.

        So maybe social media should be resisting requests for data from the UK authorities also (of which they get a great many). The UK police may be looking for evidence to convict someone of a "hate crime" - for example by writing words that are deemed to be racist or sexist etc.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

          Instead of just giving me a thumb-down, maybe answer the question I posed in my second paragraph.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

            Hard to do as I don't see a question mark anywhere in your post...

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

              "

              Hard to do as I don't see a question mark anywhere in your post...

              "

              OK pedant, in that case kindly complete the task set out in my second paragraph. You will fail a lot of exams if you do not answer anything that does not contain a question mark.

        2. LucreLout

          Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

          If you think I am exagerating, maybe you can tell me of a power that the new Chinese law gives their police that the UK police have not had for a long time (perhaps after jumping through a few very minor hoops).

          I'll have a go if I may, though I'm quite happy to admit I may have this wrong in terms of application of both domestic and HK law.

          The law isn't only about the powers it gives to the police but the powers it gives to Carrie Lam's office to appoint which judges will assess your case. We do not have any such law in the UK, as can be seen by Lady Hale [1] in the prorogation case.

          It may be that such power is only ever executed justly and within the restraint of reason, however, surely you can see room for politically driven outcomes?

          "Hong Kong's chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases, a move which has raised fears about judicial independence. Importantly, Beijing will have power over how the law should be interpreted. If the law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law takes priority."

          https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-53230391

          1 - See any father that went through the family courts under her auspices for why she may not be universally considered fair or reasonable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @LucreLout - Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

            And how comes that with their crooked, corrupted/controlled justice system China has a lower rate of imprisonment per 100000 population than UK has ?

            1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

              Re: @LucreLout - The equation to be evaluated ...

              Reported vs. Actual.

              1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

                Re: @LucreLout - The equation to be evaluated ...

                They don't count 'political' prisoners for whom they prepare massive camps

            2. pintofbitter

              Re: @LucreLout - The equation to be evaluated ...

              Because peeps just tend to vanish as opposed to imprisonment ?

              1. Lazar

                Re: @LucreLout - The equation to be evaluated ...

                They're not sent to prison, they are sent to re-education camps.

                They are also sent home but with guards and CCTV to keep their activities in check.

            3. LucreLout

              Re: @LucreLout - The equation to be evaluated ...

              And how comes that with their crooked, corrupted/controlled justice system China has a lower rate of imprisonment per 100000 population than UK has

              Sorry, but I've neither stated nor implied that either nation has a crooked or corrupt justice system. I responded to a specific question inquiring what powers the new law gives police in HK that the UK police don't already have, to explain that the differences impact more than just the police, and that while our justice system is far from perfect, the prorogation case would imply its a little more free from political consideration than the new law specifically states.

              Your reply seems to imply you think I'm anti-China, when the opposite is true - China is one of my favorite countries in the world and has been most of my life. I have no dog in the fight with regards to China and HK, because HK is part of China - it is literally some land we leased for 100 years and handed back upon the expiry of that lease. It was never the UK's land to rule, though many of the people born there during the lease are UK citizens or could have been and to those people we owe opportunity. I trust that clears up any misunderstandings AC?

        3. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

          Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

          "POCA allows the seizure of all the assets of anyone suspected but not convicted of a crime."

          With the minor inconvenience of getting a judge to agree, albeit at civil standards of proof.

    3. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

      "Remember: it is not just China, other oppressive states also exist."

      Many governments are calling for facial recognition, encryption back-doors, license plate readers, warrant-less surveillance and universal searches of electronic devices. In fact, only Canada seems to be the exception and that can change with the next government.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @NoneSuch - Re: The equation to be evaluated ...

        I wouldn't wait that long.

  3. Oh Matron!

    Not only

    has that horse bolted, it's been ground up and fed to the masses in burgers

    "claiming their private information would end up "in the hands" of China." It's already in the hands of China. And Russia, And the US. Hypocrisy appears to be rife in US rhetoric

    1. adrian727

      Re: Not only

      Sure, but US won't jail you because you said California should go independent

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Not only

        Yet.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @adrian727 - Re: Not only

        So how would you then explain that US has an incarceration rate per 100000 population 5 (yep, the number of fingers on your hand) times higher than an oppressive, dictatorial, authoritarian Chinese state ? And don't forget to consider a justice system controlled by one political party like they have there.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: @adrian727 - Not only

          "justice system controlled by one political party"--that would be the Democrats? Because we certainly don't control it. (For the utterly clueless, check the recent Supreme Court rulings.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Claptrap314 - Re: @adrian727 - Not only

            you clearly missed the words "they have there". I understand you're upset the Republicans nominated judge didn't toed the party line but that doesn't explain having twice as much inmates than those commies.

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: @Claptrap314 - @adrian727 - Not only

              Look into the treatment of the Uighurs. They have entire districts where the populations are effectively imprisoned. And just how many of our inmates are live organ transplant donors?

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Not only

        There are many things you could say that could get you jailed in the UK. Try posting that it should be illegal for gays or blacks to live in your neighbourhood, for example.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not only

        Actually many of they wish they would. :)

        Joking. Joking.

      5. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Not only

        Sure, but US won't jail you because you said California should go independent

        Let me just change a few letters:

        Sure, but Spain won't jail you because you said Catalonia should go independent

        We need to always worry about erosion of freedom of speech.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not only

      "claiming their private information would end up "in the hands" of China." It's already in the hands of China. And Russia, And the US. Hypocrisy appears to be rife in US rhetoric"

      Indeed!

      While doing a deep-dive inspection on an Android phone that was having repeated full-screen pop-up ads for a bogus "antivirus" app I discovered something much more nefarious.

      It seems that the factory installed Facebook app was some customised version that was not found on the Play store.

      The Facebook app was created specifically to allow the Chinese phone manufacturer and all the other built-in apps to access the users social media data and also use the apps extensive permission list by reflection.

      I also found that the factory installed AVG "antivirus" app had an advertising SDK that could not only access the users clipboard but also the users camera, microphone and text-to-speech data.

      Oh, and the bogus "antivirus" app that was "advertised" through fake virus warnings could access the users WhatsApp database by becoming a device administrator and abusing Androids accessibility API's.

      I reported the developers to the Federal Trade Commission and to Google multiple times but nothing was ever done about it.

      So yeah, it's kinda hard to point the finger at China for accessing users data when all the other app developers are also doing it and you have companies like Facebook and Google that allow low-level access to users data and our toothless federal government that refuses to put a stop to it.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Not only

        What do you expect buying a Chinese phone with an OS that's freely modifiable by the OEM? How do you think they sell those phones for such low prices? Same way Google and Facebook are able to offer their services for free - by selling you to their customers.

  4. IGotOut Silver badge

    Ban TikTok...

    Because if anyone is going to look at your clipboard, we rather it was LinkedIn and Reddit.

    Odd how that hasn't made such big heaflines.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Ban TikTok...

      Considering the multiple, convoluted levels where you need to opt out of Google's 'helpful' monitoring on an android phone, you likely more secure on a new Huawei non android unit.

      It may be that China would like to be the Borg, but Google, FB etc have already beaten them to it in the West.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Huawei non android

        You mean Huawei non Google.

        And if as reported TikTok closes in HK it will leave a vacuum that will fill up in around 0.01 of a second.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Chris G - Re: Ban TikTok...

        You have a valid point here. Using a de-Googled Huawei phone outside China is a gift. The Chinese government will monitor your every move but since you live in US/UK/other Western countries it will not be of any help for them as long as you don't plan to go to China.

        Best form of privacy until the US would consider buy information collected by their enemy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Chris G - Ban TikTok...

          The US have even willingly collaborated with Iran when it fitted their aims, so that's hardly far fetched.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC - Re: @Chris G - Ban TikTok...

            If you can imagine CIA and Chinese army working shoulder to shoulder then I'd say pigs should be equipped with TCAS systems.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Chris G - Ban TikTok...

          You have a valid point here. Using a de-Googled Huawei phone outside China is a gift. The Chinese government will monitor your every move but since you live in US/UK/other Western countries it will not be of any help for them as long as you don't plan to go to China.

          Oh the nativity!

          Do you think that if China wants proprietary information from a company you work for, they won't use all the personal information which they have gained from your phone to blackmail you?

          1. very angry man
            FAIL

            Re: @Chris G - Ban TikTok...

            You keep information that could be used to blackmail you on your phone?

            how quaint!

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: @Chris G - Ban TikTok...

              Actually it seems to be a trend these days... all the 'best' celebs are doing it.

            2. druck Silver badge

              Re: @Chris G - Ban TikTok...

              You don't keep information on your phone that could be used to blackmail you, your phone does.

  5. msobkow Bronze badge

    Trump and the US government:

    "No one gets to spy except us! We're the the ultimate law and rule of the planet, and we say China has no part in it because they're Taking Away Our Jobs! *grunt*"

  6. cornetman Silver badge

    > ...law-enforcement agencies from accessing user data after the local government granted sweeping new powers to police

    > under the law to "prevent, suppress and impose punishment for offences endangering national security."

    > The police will be able to search people without warrants and take down internet posts.

    I'm a bit confused. Is this in the US or Hong Kong?

    It's not quite as obvious as it should be.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'the country (USA) is "looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.'

    Does this mean that the USA will look at banning the use of Chinese manufactured phones? Does that leave many alternatives?

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      How does where they are manufactured matter? It isn't like Foxconn (a Taiwanese company, not Chinese) is able to modify iOS to 'bug' an iPhone. Ditto for e.g. Samsung phones that are manufactured in China. It is only a concern for Chinese OEMs who determine what software gets loaded.

      1. very angry man
        WTF?

        Are you REALY new here?

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