Asia Minute: Hong Kong Losing Tech Company Business

Jul 22, 2020

Hong Kong’s new security law is a source of concern for a growing number of international companies — and several are taking action. That includes groups ranging from the New York Times to a company some call the “Google of South Korea.”

Naver is South Korea’s largest internet portal, and it’s moved its back up data center from Hong Kong to Singapore. On Tuesday the company confirmed that it deleted information from servers in Hong Kong earlier this month — shifting it to Singapore.

Last week the New York Times announced it is moving its Hong Kong based digital news operation to Seoul. In a staff memo, editors at the paper wrote that “China’s sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean to our operation and our journalism.”

Under that new law, the government in Beijing can prosecute people for “acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion” related to Hong Kong. Police can ask a company to delete or restrict access to content that is judged by authorities to “endanger national security.”

That leaves a lot to interpretation – leading to a good deal of caution about exactly how that law may be applied. A survey earlier this month by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong found 76% of nearly 200 members who responded had concerns about the new law.

Social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as Google have all announced that they have suspended processing law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong.