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Microsoft and Zoom will pause data requests from Hong Kong authorities

After Facebook, Twitter and Telegram, Microsoft and Zoom will pause data access to Hong Kong authorities.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | July 8, 2020 | Updated 12:01 IST

Highlights

  • Zoom and Microsoft have said that they will pause data access to Hong Kong authorities.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram have also temporarily restricted access to user data to authorities in Hong Kong.
  • Apple has said that it is still assessing the law and has not confirmed restrictions to access the user data.

Tech giants Microsoft and Zoom will not give access to user data to the Hong Kong authorities until the new security law is reviewed, BBC noted. The tech giants have joined Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google, Twitter, Telegram, and Signal in not complying with the authorities when it comes to sharing user data.

However, Microsoft and Zoom are accessible in China, unlike the latter mentioned apps that are banned due to the Great Firewall under which the government monitors and tracks the online activity of the users.

However, users in semi-autonomous Hong Kong use Facebook, Twitter, Telegram extensively.

China passed a new national security law for Hong Kong that went into effect from July 1. The new law criminalises critics or dissenters of the communist government. It criminalises "secession, subversion, organization, and perpetration of terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security."

By that effect, it will be illegal for protestors or demonstrators to run pro-democracy slogans or banners. These protests were organised mainly through social media last year.

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT)s allow countries outside the US to request for user data outside the US for law enforcement. This takes place in the presence of court orders depending on the legal processes of countries.

While the tech giants are showing resistance and pausing data access to the authorities until the new security law is reviewed, Apple has not confirmed restriction to data access. Apple has said that it is still assessing the impact of the law.

"Apple has always required that all content requests from local law enforcement authorities be submitted through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in place between the United States and Hong Kong Under that process, the U.S. Department of Justice reviews Hong Kong authorities' requests for legal conformance," Apple said in a statement reported by The Bloomberg.

Apple has quite a significant market presence in China as a lot of Apple's manufacturing companies also function from China.

This is not the first time Apple has taken a soft stance on China-related decisions. Back in October 2019, Apple had removed an app that let Hong Kong protestors track police activity, Business Insider noted. It had drawn severe criticism for this decision.

Hong Kong has enjoyed its semi-autonomy under the one-country two systems principle. China has however established its dominance by bringing in restrictions and setting up laws. The new National Security Law will criminalise pro-democracy slogans and protests. The crimes include conspiring with foreigners to provoke hatred of the Chinese government or Hong Kong authorities.

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