Open data group disbands citing ‘recent restrictions’

Pro-democracy data scientist, Wong Ho-wa, has announced that he is disbanding his group, citing changes in the “recent atmosphere”, restrictions in freedom of expression and access to information., which was formed in 2016, compiled open source data and developed interactive websites covering topics such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the anti-extradition bill protests.

But in a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday, the group announced that it would be disbanding and its website had been shut down.

Speaking to RTHK, Wong said the objective of was to improve society using existing data and information, and also to provide transparency for the general public.

But Wong said because of the “recent atmosphere” and changes in Hong Kong, the main question for him was, “If we go on, can we still work as we did a year ago?”

“In terms of the atmosphere, we talk about the freedom of expression, and also freedom to access of information that over the last 12 months, I think, there is such a great decline.

“So as a civic tech society, we really rely on those two basic elements in Hong Kong, which supposedly exist, but now it’s no longer there,” Wong said, saying that they also rely on access to open data and information obtained by journalists.

“But now, sadly, as a matter of fact the freedom of journalists has been quite restricted in recent months, so is the [freedom of] expression… so that’s why from the civic society point of view, it is hard to maintain the momentum and the community.”