The Hong Kong government will soon enact a set of tough anti-doxxing revisions to the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
Doxxing is the act of publishing or releasing a person's personal information without the person's consent and with malicious intent.
Once passed, the bill will give the privacy commissioner the authority to conduct criminal investigations, prosecute violators, gain access to technology companies' electronic devices without a warrant in emergency situations, and issue requests to remove content and block websites if they refuse to comply.
While the internet sector has expressed concerns in recent weeks about the unclear definition of doxxing and the surge in content-blocking, the government has taken a firm stance and gazetted the bill July 16. On July 21, the first reading and debate took place.
The proposed anti-doxxing legislation has sparked widespread concern in the online community, as evidenced by a letter sent June 25 by the Asia Internet Coalition.
The letter criticized the amendments for vaguely defining doxxing as actions that are "intrusive to personal data privacy and in effect weaponize personal data," which they say could result in "an overly broad interpretation such that even innocent acts of sharing of information online could be deemed unlawful under the ordinance."
The letter also said that the amendments have not taken freedom of speech into account, and that if the changes are implemented, tech companies may cease supplying their services in Hong Kong.
The restrictions, according to the coalition, are "not aligned with global norms and trends," and any legislation that potentially restricts free speech "must be built upon principles of necessity and proportionality."
The Asia Internet Coalition is composed of international tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.