A Hong Kong ISP said on Thursday it had blocked access to a pro-democracy website to comply with the city’s national security law.
In a statement sent on Thursday, Hong Kong’s broadband network said it had disabled access to HKChronicles, a website that collected information on “yellow” stores that supported the city’s pro-democracy movement and released personal information and photos of police and pro-Beijing supporters during anti-government protests in 2019.
“We have disabled access to the Website in accordance with the requirement under National Security Law,” the company said.
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The editor-in-chief of the site, Naomi Chan, said in a post last week that users in Hong Kong reported that the site was inaccessible. She accused telecommunications companies like SmarTone, China Mobile Hong Kong, PCCW and the Hong Kong Broadband Network of blocking it.
China Mobile Hong Kong and SmarTone did not immediately comment. A spokesman for the PCCW said it had no comment on the matter.
Chan advised Hong Kongers to “prepare early to face future blockade of the Internet on a larger scale and to face the darkness before dawn.”
The move to block HKChronicles has heightened concerns that Beijing is claiming more control over the city and breaking its promise to let the former British colony maintain separate civil rights and political systems for 50 years after the communist-ruled mainland took over in 1997.
It has also raised fears of Internet restrictions in Hong Kong, similar to the “major firewall in China”, a system of mainland Internet censorship that blocks foreign search engines and social media platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter and scrubs the Internet for keywords. considered sensitive by the Chinese Government.
Glacier Kwong, a digital rights and political activist based in Germany, wrote in a Twitter post last week that Hong Kong has “abused legal procedures and other means to impede the free flow of information online” for the past 18 months .
“The Hong Kong government is suffocating the freedom of the Hong Kong people on the Internet,” she said. “An open Internet has always been the cornerstone of freedom in a place. Disruption of Internet freedom also undermines the flow of information, freedom of communication and freedom of the press.”
Beijing introduced a national security law over Hong Kong in June last year with the aim of abolishing disagreements in the semi-autonomous region following peaceful mass demonstrations against a now-drawn extradition proposal transformed into months of anti-government protests that led to sometimes violent clashes.
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The Security Act criminalizes acts of undermining, secession, terrorism and collaborating with foreign powers to intervene in city affairs.
Under Article 43 of the National Security Act, the police have the power to order “a person who published information or the relevant service provider to delete the information or provide assistance.”