The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Legislative Council on Wednesday began discussions on the Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill, which focuses on combating doxxing behavior. The controversial bill has drawn criticism from tech giants and activists for its implications for data privacy and free speech.
The Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill of 2021 aims to punish anyone who discloses an individual’s personal data without their consent with the intention of causing specified harm. The harms specified include harassment, threats, intimidation, bodily harm, psychological harm, causing the victim to be concerned about safety and others. The sentence includes fines of up to HK $ 1 million ($ 128,736) and five years in prison.
The bill also grants the Personal Data Protection Commissioner a wide range of powers. The Commissioner can request a warrant to enter and search premises and seize documents for investigation. The Commissioner can also access electronic devices without a warrant, as well as issue notices to remove content or block access to such content anywhere in the world.
Asia Internet Coalition, an advocacy group for tech giants Google, Twitter and Yahoo, among others, raised concerns with Ada Chung, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, on the month last. The main concerns included ambiguity in the definition of acts of doxxing, the liability of intermediaries and exclusions in case of genuine disclosure.
Coalition members also warned the commissioner that they could stop offering their services in Hong Kong if authorities implemented the changes to the law.