China was never supposed to have complete micromanaging control over Hong Kong. When the UK handed the territory back over to the mainland, the deal was supposed to be “one party, two systems.” Hong Kong could continue being Hong Kong, and the mainland would take backseat control over the political narrative. This arrangement only lasted for a miniscule blip in time.
China continues to force Hong Kong into a human rights chokehold, and most of Hong Kong has refused to comply with their whims. Protests and a general state of civil unrest have increased China’s urge to take control by implementing laws designed to take Hong Kong’s power off the map.
The Asia Internet Coalition, a group that includes Google, Twitter, Apple, LinkedIn, and Facebook, is being forced to abide by China’s new rules with strange and ambiguous threats. Rather than complying, the companies have threatened to pull their presence from Hong Kong.
When the Doxxing Started
China claims that their new internet rules are designed to combat doxxing, which they feel was a significant problem for the safety of law enforcement and government officials during the Hong Kong protests. Activists were allegedly doxxing authorities as a form of retaliation for what they endured during their demonstrations.
Although the protesters were impassioned for the right reasons, doxxing is still criminal. It isn’t highly unreasonable for a government to push to make doxxing people illegal. Doxxing is a way to threaten and intimidate people in their families, and it should absolutely be met with consequences.
Why The Asia Internet Coalition May Pull Out of Hong Kong in Response
The new rules dictate that sharing of other people’s personal information is a criminal offense not just for the individuals who share that information, but for the social media platforms that the information was posted on.
The consequence for violation involves “severe sanctions on individuals”, and China has not clarified exactly what that means. Placing sanctions on individuals is virtually unheard of, and other than the treat that these sanctions will be “severe”, tech companies don’t understand exactly what’s being implied.
As a response, many tech companies have pledged to pull out of Hong Kong if the proposal is passed the way it stands. These ambiguous and potentially devastating effects could damage entire companies over things they are unable to control.
What to Do If the Coalition Leaves Hong Kong
If the blocks go up, it’s not the fault of social media companies. They’re being thrust into an impossible position by a government that’s actively attempting to run them out. They don’t have much of a choice.
People in Hong Kong can still use the services mentioned in the coalition if they work around the internet censors. A stealth VPN like TorGuard will shield their internet activity from governments and service providers, making it appear to come from a different country.