Hong Kong is focusing on Western Big Tech firms in its new ban of a preferred protest track


The key distinction between this motion and former makes an attempt to take away content material is that this can be a civil injunction, not like a legal prosecution—which means it’s, not less than legally talking, nearer to a copyright takedown request. In flip, a platform might arguably be much less more likely to take a reputational hit so long as it removes the content material upon request. 

Kwong believes it will certainly make platforms extra more likely to cooperate and there have already been fairly clear indicators to that impact. In one listening to in December, the federal government was requested by the court docket to seek the advice of on-line platforms for the feasibility of the injunction. The closing judgment this week says that whereas the platforms “haven’t taken half in these proceedings, they’ve indicated that they’re able to accede to the Government’s request if there’s a court docket order.”

“The precise targets on this case, primarily the tech giants, might have much less hesitation to adjust to a civil court docket order than a nationwide safety order as a result of if it is the latter, they might additionally face backfire from the US,” says Eric Yan-Ho Lai, a analysis fellow at Georgetown Center for Asian Law. 

Lai additionally says now that the injunction is granted, will probably be simpler to prosecute a person primarily based on violating a civil injunction than prosecuting somebody primarily based on legal offenses, as a result of now the federal government received’t have to show legal intent.

The chilling impact

Immediately after the injunction, human rights advocates referred to as on tech firms to stay dedicated to their values. “Companies like Google and Apple have repeatedly claimed that they stand by the common proper to freedom of expression. They ought to put their beliefs into apply,” says Freedom House’s Wang. “Google and different tech firms ought to totally doc authorities calls for, and publish detailed transparency studies on content material takedowns, each for these initiated by the authorities and people performed by the businesses themselves.”

Without making their plans clear, it’s too early to know simply how tech firms will react. But proper after the injunction was granted, the track largely remained obtainable on most platforms, together with YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify, for Hong Kong customers, in accordance with the South China Morning Post. On iTunes, the track even returned to the highest of the obtain rankings a couple of hours after the injunction.

One key issue which will nonetheless decide company cooperation is how far the content material elimination requests go. There will certainly be extra movies of the track which might be uploaded to YouTube, to not point out unbiased web sites internet hosting the movies and music for extra individuals to entry. Will the federal government go after every of them too?

The Hong Kong authorities has beforehand stated in court docket hearings that it solely seeks a neighborhood restriction of the net content material, which means content material will solely be inaccessible to customers bodily within the metropolis, which giant platforms like YouTube can accomplish that with out issue. 



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