HK law enforcement’s warrantless metadata requests raise privacy concern

Internet privacy by Yuri Samoilov

Hong Kong Transparency Report contributed an op-ed on Global Voices Advocacy discussing the lack of legal oversight on law enforcement’s requests for web users’ metadata, why metadata is so important to users’ privacy rights, and its implications on the free flow of information and free speech in the city.

Lai Tung-Kwok, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security, said at a Legislative Council meeting on 29 April that law enforcement agencies may request necessary user information (such as account names, IP addresses and log records) from service providers for locating witnesses, evidence or suspects when investigating criminal cases. Warrants are only required for seizure of communications content and documents, and no warrants are required for requests for metadata. That means there is no judicial scrutiny for the 23,946 user information requests the Hong Kong Police Force and the Customs and Excise Department have issued in the past five years.

To read the full piece, please refer to the original column on GVA.

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