Hong Kong Government discloses requests for online user information

Over a three-year period, the Hong Kong Government made at least 14,453 requests to Internet Service Providers for disclosure of their users’ information.

Separately, the government also made at least another 7003 requests to various online service providers for removal of content posted online

Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, made these  disclosures at a Legislative Council session on February 6, 2013, in response to questions raised by Charles Mok, a legislator representing the IT sector.

Mok had asked for details about Government requests to Internet Service Providers during the previous three years for.  Mok’s enquiry was prompted by a Google report that the Hong Kong government had made 192 requests to the company for disclosure of its users’ information during the first half of 2012.

So’s answer contained considerable information about government interaction with Internet Service Providers. It also marked the first time the Hong Kong government had disclosed to the public its intervention with ISP’s in pursuit of online user information.

The February 6 exchanges have given the Hong Kong government the distinction of being the first government in Asia to provide what have come to be known by policy makers, industry leaders and civil rights advocates as “Transparency Reports.”

The texts of the written exchanges can be found here, while a transcript of the full LegCo session is posted here.

A government press release issued on February 6 documents the historic session. The press release included two attachments, Annex I (user data requests) and Annex II (content removal requests), documenting the released data.

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