Anxieties over doxxing laws will fade: Carrie Lam

Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday sought to play down concerns that planned anti-doxxing laws could lead to tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google pulling out of Hong Kong, saying anxieties over the legislation will fade in time.

An industry group, Asia Internet Coalition, has warned that the three companies might stop offering their services in the city, if changes to privacy laws put locally-based staff at risk of criminal charges.

But Lam said once the new legislation comes into force, people’s concerns will be alleviated.

“Every piece of legislation, including the national security law, will cause some concerns and anxiety. Of course it’d be great if these concerns can be addressed as much as possible during the legislation process,” she said.

“But sometimes we have to let the facts speak for themselves. The national security law in Hong Kong has been implemented for a year… and things people who smeared the law earlier said would happen had not happened.”

Lam stressed that the law will only target illegal doxxing behaviour and empower the privacy commissioner to take action, adding there is general support in society for measures to combat doxxing as the problem has “caused trauma to a lot of people for a long time”.

Police officers and judges, among others, became the target of privacy infringement after the 2019 protests erupted.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data rejected claims that the law amendments will deter foreign companies from investing in Hong Kong, saying offences will be clearly defined.

It said it would soon meet representatives from the Asia Internet Coalition to discuss the matter.

The government is planning to introduce fines of up to HK$1 million and imprisonment of up to five years for people who disclose personal data without consent with the intention to threaten someone or their family.