Facebook, Twitter temporarily refusing data requests from Hong Kong officials

Facebook, Twitter temporarily refusing data requests from Hong Kong officials
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Facebook and Twitter are among the social media platforms temporarily denying data requests from Hong Kong officials in the wake of a new national security law imposed on the semi-autonomous region.

The law imposed by China is aimed at curbing opposition to the ruling Communist Party. It was passed last Tuesday without significant input from local authorities and gives Beijing broad powers to crack down on practically any dissent, including protests, and regulate the city's previously open internet. 

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Hill the company is "pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law" on all of its platforms.

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The company will consult with international human rights experts before making a decision on whether to comply with data requests on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp users.

Twitter paused all data requests immediately when the law went into effect last week, the company told The Hill.

"Given the rapid pace at which the new National Security Law in China has been passed and that it was only published in its entirety for the first time last week, our teams are reviewing the law to assess its implications, particularly as some of the terms of the law are vague and without clear definition," a spokesperson said.

Messaging service Telegram, meanwhile, said in statement to the Hong Kong Free Press that it won't process “any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city.”

And Signal, an encrypted messaging service, said on Twitter on Twitter that "we'd announce that we're stopping too, but we never started turning over user data to HK police. Also, we don't have user data to turn over."