The Legislative Council of Hong Kong Special Administration Region began discussions Wednesday on the Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill, which focuses on tackling doxxing behaviour. The controversial bill has been a subject of criticism by technology giants and activists due to its implications on data privacy and freedom of expression.
The Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Bill, 2021, intends to punish anyone who discloses an individual’s personal data without consent with an intent to cause specified harm. Specified harm includes harassment, threat, intimidation, bodily harm, psychological harm, causing the victim to be concerned about safety and others. The punishment includes fines of up to HK$1 million ($128,736) and five years in prison.
The bill also grants the Privacy Commissioner of Personal Data a wide range of powers. The commissioner can apply for a warrant to enter and search premises and seize materials for investigation. The commissioner can also access electronic devices without a warrant, as well as issue notices to remove content or block access to that content anywhere globally.
Asia Internet Coalition, an advocacy group that includes technology giants Google, Twitter and Yahoo, among others, addressed their concerns to Ada Chung, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, last month. The key concerns included ambiguity in the definition of doxxing acts, intermediary liability and exclusions in cases of genuine disclosure.
The members of the Coalition also warned the commissioner that they could stop offering their services in Hong Kong if the authorities implemented the changes to the law.