Microsoft, Zoom Won’t Comply with Hong Kong Law

  • Zoom has been banned by the Taiwanese government and NASA.
  • Earlier, Facebook, Google, and Twitter announced on Monday that they would not comply with data requests by the Hong Kong government.
  • If technology companies do not cooperate with Hong Kong laws, they may be restricted or banned by the Hong Kong government.

After the entry into force of the controversial National Security Act, the leading US technology company, Microsoft, and the recently popular video software, Zoom, joined the ranks of other technology companies in refusing to cooperate with Hong Kong. Specifically, they would temporarily not comply with the government’s requests for personal data.

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (Zoom) is an American communications technology company headquartered in San Jose, California. It provides videotelephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and is used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations.

In response to an inquiry by AFP, Microsoft stated that the company would review the new law and understand its meaning before making any new policy. The statement said, “in the past, we usually only received a very small number of requests from the Hong Kong government, but because we are reviewing the new law, we are now suspending requests from the Hong Kong government.”

The communication software Zoom also issued a statement on Tuesday, saying:

“Zoom supports the free and open exchange of thoughts and ideas. We are proud to facilitate meaningful conversations and professional collaboration around the world. We’re actively monitoring the developments in Hong Kong SAR, including any potential guidance from the U.S. government. We have paused processing any data requests from, and related to, Hong Kong SAR.”

The software became popular during the New Coronavirus epidemic in response to rising demand for video conference communication. However, in recent months, it has been questioned for its safety because of the founder’s Chinese background. Zoom has been banned by the Taiwanese government and NASA.

Earlier, Facebook, Google, and Twitter announced on Monday that they would not comply with data requests by the Hong Kong government until they carefully evaluate the impact of the new law. Facebook extended this policy to its own Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

The Douyin overseas version of the app TikTok announced that it will withdraw from the Hong Kong market within a few days. Apple said on Monday that it will not directly receive requests for user content from the Hong Kong government.

The Hong Kong national security law is a decision adopted by the third session of the thirteenth National People’s Congress, to authorize the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) to promulgate a national security law in Hong Kong. The pan-democratic camp, human rights organisations and politicians abroad have criticised the decision as a threat to the “one country, two systems” principle, the rule of law and civil liberties.

Conversely, the company requires the Hong Kong authorities to submit requests under the US-Hong Kong Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. The US Department of Justice receives these requests before it will review compliance with legal requirements.

If technology companies do not cooperate with Hong Kong laws, they may be restricted or banned by the Hong Kong government, affecting their operations in Hong Kong. Although Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been banned for use in mainland China, Microsoft, Apple, and Zoom have not been banned.

On the evening of July 6, the Hong Kong government announced the implementation rules of Article 43 of the “National Security Act,” which came into effect on July 7. The law authorizes the police to require publishers or online platform service providers to remove messages that endanger national security, and offenders will be fined or imprisoned.

The Commissioner of Police also has the right to obtain information about Hong Kong-related activities, including personal data, funds, assets, etc., from foreign or Taiwanese political organizations or agents. The entire procedure does not require court consent, and only requires the approval of the Director of Security.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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