The tech giants warned that they would consider ending their operations in that Chinese city. It is due to a new regulation that criminally compromises its executives and employees.
Tech giants Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc's Google, and Twitter Inc have privately warned the Hong Kong government that they could stop offering their services in the city if authorities go ahead with planned changes to data protection laws that it promotes. The Chinese regime, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The laws could hold technology companies responsible for maliciously sharing user information online, the newspaper added, in what is read by analysts as a possible Beijing meddling in the operations of international companies.
A letter sent by an industry group that includes internet firms said companies are concerned that the rules in place to deal with doxing could put their workers at risk of criminal investigations or lawsuits related to what users posted online.
Tensions are rising between the United States' most powerful companies and Hong Kong officials as Beijing exercises its control over the city and ends political divisions. US companies and other technology companies said last year that they were suspending the processing of requests from law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong following the imposition by China of national security law in the city, "recalled the Wall Street daily in its edition this Monday.
The Wall Street Jopurnal quoted Jeff Paine, CEO of the Asia Internet Coalition, who said in the letter sent to Hong Kong's Personal Data Privacy Commissioner he warned that while the group of companies and its members oppose doxing, "the vague wording of the proposed amendments could mean that companies and their staff based in the country could be the subject of criminal investigations and prosecution for doxing offenses by their users."
The doxing is an act that involves disclosing personal information from users, such as real name, address of the home or the workplace, without the permission of the user, rather than the three technology ensures not perform anywhere in the world.
The Office of Constitutional Affairs and Continental Hong Kong proposed in May amendments to the laws on data protection of the city; he said it was necessary to combat doxing, which was common during the protests of 2019 in the city newspaper. With the new wording, the signatures could be arbitrarily accused of such a crime by the regime's authorities.
According to WSJ, the letter dated June 25 was sent by the Singapore-based Asia Internet Coalition.
"The only way for tech companies to avoid these restrictions is to refrain from investing and offering services in Hong Kong." The Journal reported quoting the letter.
In recent days, the Chinese regime has intensified its campaign against technology companies with several investigations of companies such as the 'Chinese Uber' Didi, which debuted last week on the New York Stock Exchange, for alleged risks to the data security of the users.
Two days after Didi went public on Wall Street, after an IPO in which it raised more than 4.4 billion dollars, the China Cyberspace Administration (CAC) opened an investigation against the company and prohibited it from registering new users before removing your app from Chinese digital stores.
Today, the authorities launched similar investigations against the employment portal Boss Zhipin and two other shared transport companies, Yunmanman and Huochebang, belonging to the Full Truck Alliance group and known as the "Didi of trucks" for their similar business model.
Beijing, which claims that the measures are aimed at "preventing risks to national security and protecting the general interest," has also restricted the registration of new users on these three platforms.
In its brief statements, the CAC cites the National Security Law or the Cybersecurity Law but does not specify which articles of those regulations the affected companies have violated.
Didi, Kanzhun - the parent company of Boss Zhipin - and the Full Truck Alliance have in common that they are companies that provide their services through digital platforms and have all gone public in the United States in recent weeks.
"The rise of 'data sovereignty against the US government's surveillance of Chinese companies should be a knock for (companies) to prioritize national security when planning to raise funds in areas that may threaten China's national security." Dong Shaopeng, a researcher at the Peking People's University, told the official Global Times newspaper.
According to this expert, shared transport companies manage large amounts of data related to national transport infrastructures or the flows of people and vehicles, so he considers that it is "vital" to establish a "firewall" that prevents access to this data.
Dong went further and called for the withdrawal of the recently issued Didi shares, which fell 8.5% at the opening of the session last Friday in New York after the announcement of the investigation.
The antitrust campaign seeks to end common practices among large Chinese technology companies such as the one known as "choosing one of two" -that is, forced exclusivity with a specific platform, common in the electronic commerce sector-, the lowering of prices via subsidies to achieve a greater market share or the acquisition of other companies without the relevant authorization.
In recent months, the country's large digital firms have faced investigations and sanctions such as the 18.2 billion yuan (2.818 billion dollars, 2.375 billion euros) imposed in April by the markets regulator on the electronic commerce giant. Alibaba, the largest antitrust fine in the country's history.
For years, the digital sector has flourished in China not only thanks to the country's huge market but also to lax regulations - or their enforcement - something that Beijing seems to have put an end to in recent months, especially since the late suspension of the IPO of Alibaba's fintech company Ant Group, which was to be the largest operation of its kind in history.
While some analysts believe that the Chinese regime does not want to allow a big tech to become excessive in size and power and thus escape the authorities' control, others such as Ivan Platonov of the Chinese consultancy EqualOcean, believe that this is a "superficial opinion."
"These antitrust intentions are natural (...). We see great demand from various industrial pressure groups for this type of research. It is clear that having a few 'national champions' is an easier environment to control than a diverse group of segmented leaders, "he explained to the EFE agency.