Apple assessing Hong Kong’s new security law even as Google, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram have decided to block user data requests from HK authorities
Hong Kong is in a turmoil. Whatever little chance of protesting against anti-people laws left for the Hong Kong citizens were taken away by the new security law signed in by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on 1st July. The new law gives absolute powers to the local government headed by Carrie Lam to extradite Hong Kong protestors to mainland China and imprison them for life.
As soon as the new security laws were announced, the United States announced a unilateral ban on the export of security equipment and technology to Hong Kong. This was followed by Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram announcing that they will no longer entertain and user data requests or user takedown requests from the Hong Kong authorities. Google and Twitter joined the list last night by announcing that they would not take any user data requests from the Hong Kong government.
Apple, the big daddy of technology however said that it was still in the process of understanding the situation in Hong Kong. The Cupertino based company said it is “assessing” a new Hong Kong security law that has sparked concern about criminalizing protests. Apple added that it has not received any user data requests for Hong Kong authorities since the law was enacted. It also added that it doesn’t get requests directly from the government there.
“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,” the company said. Under that process, “the U.S. Department of Justice reviews Hong Kong authorities’ requests for legal conformance.”
Apple remains the only major technology company to not act against the local Hong Kong authorities after the draconian new security law kicked in.