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Google stops responding to data requests from Hong Kong authorities

The change is in response to Hong Kong’s new national security law.
The Google logo is seen on the top of its China headquarters building behind a road surveillance camera in Beijing January 26, 2010. Chinese state media stepped up their war of words with the United States over Internet control on Tuesday, with a top newspaper claiming a U.S. conspiracy and saying China can live without Google. This logo has been updated and is no longer in use. 
Jason Lee / reuters
Christine Fisher
Christine Fisher|@cfisherwrites|August 14, 2020 9:47 AM

Google will no longer respond directly to data requests from Hong Kong authorities, the company announced today. The decision is in response to the national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in early July, The Washington Post reports. Google, along with Facebook and Twitter, suspended reviewing data requests from Hong Kong shortly after the law passed. Now, Google is ending cooperation with Hong Kong authorities altogether.

Authorities will have to make data requests through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US. According to The Washington Post, that’s a cumbersome process that involves the Justice Department and can take weeks or months.

Until recently, Hong Kong has had an open and free internet, unlike mainland China. Some fear the law has the ability to make individuals and companies remove content. As The Washington Post explains it “targets vaguely defined crimes including subversion of state power, collusion with foreign powers, secession and terrorism.”

After the law was passed, TikTok pulled out of Hong Kong, and Naver pulled its data centers. While Facebook and Twitter stopped reviewing data requests from Hong Kong authorities, it’s not yet clear if they’ll take a more permanent stance like Google.

Google stops responding to data requests from Hong Kong authorities