Wednesday, April 21We Break the News

TECHNOLOGY: TikTok exits operations in Hong Kong due to national security law.

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TikTok has said it will no longer operate in Hong Kong after China’s new national security law demanded it hand over user data.

Technology giants including Google, Twitter and Facebook have also said they will deny requests for user data from Hong Kong law enforcement while they examine the implications of the new legislation.

Professional networking site LinkedIn and video conferencing software Zoom today said they too are “pausing processing data requests from and related to Hong Kong” in light of the law.

It comes after the Hong Kong government announced how some aspects of the security law will be implemented late on Monday.

Police will no longer have to seek court orders before requiring internet users or service providers to remove posts or aid investigations.

Any message which is “likely to constitute an offence endangering national security or is likely to cause the occurrence of an offence endangering national security” could be removed.

Last week, Beijing imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong which many – including the UK and US governments – believe threatens the city’s traditional freedoms.

The Chinese and Hong Kong governments insist those freedoms will be respected and that the law is necessary to restore stability. China ‘trying to influence elite figures in British politics’

Unlike on the Chinese mainland – where access to many sites is blocked – Hong Kong’s internet has, up until this point, been unrestricted.

However, many people in Hong Kong have been scrubbing their internet history since the law was passed.

A TikTok spokesman told Reuters: “In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong.”

But Tiktok’s parent company ByteDance told Chinese state media outlet Global Times that Douyin – the Chinese version of the app – will continue to be available in Hong Kong.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, said they would pause its response to government requests for user data “pending further assessment of the national security law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts”.

Twitter said: “Like many public interest organisations, civil society leaders and entities, and industry peers, we have grave concerns regarding both the developing process and the full intention of this law.”

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