Hong Kong Social Media Activists Under Fire as Key Electoral Policy Vote Approaches

Hong Kong Central, September 2014. Photo by Flickr user Pasu Au Yeung. CC BY 2.0

Hong Kong Transparency Report’s Jennifer Zhang contributed a blog post on Global Voices Advocacy today, pointing out the trend of Hong Kong authorities exploiting a vaguely defined cyber law to criminalise activists’ social media comments, based on the database HKTR has set up.

At least nine activists have been arrested for their online remarks, all charged with the debatable criminal code Section 161 which prohibits “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent.” Three have been sentenced to either community service or time in a rehabilitation center.

It is sometimes difficult to draw a line between speech that merits the protection of the law, and speech that is truly an incitement to violence. But these and other cases documented in the database suggest a dangerous trend of criminalizing legitimate, protected speech. Hong Kong law enforcement must conduct an independent review of the ongoing arrests of activists under ambiguous charges simply for what they say on the social media.

To read the full blog post, please refer to the Advox site.

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