The term “Internet organizations” refers to a broad range of companies and groups, including first and foremost Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), companies that provide access to the Internet. There are two types of ISP’s, Internet Access Services (IAS) and International Value-Added Network Services (IVANS). Both types are regulated by the Communications Authority in Hong Kong. ISP’s often serve as a starting point of information collection for government departments such as the Hong Kong Police, as they try to identify online users as part of their investigative efforts.
ISP’s and other online organizations are also referred to as Online Service Providers (OSP’s). These include any organization that provides access to subscriber information. Social networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter represent an important and growing group of OSP’s. With rapid changes in technology, these web-based platforms are playing an increasingly prominent role in Government requests for user information, since they hold detailed information about users and Internet usage.
Finally, Internet organizations also include traditional websites, whose owners might also receive requests from official agencies for content removal, or, in the case of criminal investigations, requests for user information.