HONG KONG | Deactivate accounts, migrate to networks “secure”, delete the history… The law of Beijing on the safety is blowing a wind of panic among hong Kong people believe that it is vital to erase computer traces of their commitment to pro-democracy.
The chinese regime has imposed on Tuesday night in the former british colony a text which is very controversial in that it violates, according to some foreign capitals, the principle of “One country, two systems,” meant to guarantee Hong Kong’s freedoms unknown elsewhere in China.
Until the last moment, Beijing has kept secret the content of the law to punish the subversion, secession, terrorism and the collusion with foreign forces, and which are a response to the protest movement unprecedented since 1997 appeared a year ago.
A large number of jurists have warned against the formulation very vague, a text that, in lending itself to myriad interpretations, encourages self-censorship.
Beijing has assured that the political freedoms of hong Kong people were not in the game. But many of them also recall that the communist Party has often used these laws to suppress dissent in China.
“I’ve changed my profile name, and adopted a private account so that my employer can’t see my publications as it may deem anti-chinese, or in violation of the law on national security”, explains to the AFP an employee of a large company to whom the direction is according to him “Pro-Beijing”.
Denying that his identity appears, he adds that it will be “very careful” in its future publications, for fear of being denounced by his colleagues, or even by his friends.
After the promulgation of the law, many hong Kong’ers have announced that they deleted their accounts on Twitter, Telegram or Signal, when others shared tips on the best ways to reduce the traces left on the internet.
“For your security, we delete all the messages,” announced the administrator of a group Telegram very followed by the prodémocraties. “Please, pay attention to what you say!”
A lawyer friend of the pro-democracy movement has sent a message to a journalist of the AFP asking it to clear the whole of their exchanges on WhastApp. Others indicated that they moved to Signal social network that they deem to be safer.
The criticisms of the new text especially denounce the fact that China has jurisdiction over some cases falling within the ambit of the law, undermining the judicial sovereignty of Hong Kong, and the chinese policemen will be able to operate on the ground in hong kong, which will be a first.
Other concerns: the surveillance powers expanded granted to the police, especially in the matter of the wiretaps and access to online communications without judicial oversight.
“I am ashamed”
Providers of virtual private networks (VPN) have already reported a rise in sales since the announcement of the law.
Billie, assistant of 24 years to a consultant of district, states have begun to use a VPN in may, when China announced the bill.
He makes the sorting in the persons subscribing to its social media accounts, and deleted his publications are “sensitive”, even though the new law is not supposed to be retroactive.
“I am ashamed and I am embarrassed. I’ve never wanted to do it, but I feel obliged. It is a question of survival,” he told AFP, asking that her true identity not be unveiled. “It’s a part of me that has disappeared.”
This large household is not only virtual.
Several restaurants “pro-democracy” have also chosen to win the propaganda colorful which decorated their halls, these “walls of Lennon” that were as much expressions of support to the protest of the chinese regime.
Gordon Lam, an activist pro-democracy, told AFP that at least one restaurant had asked him to tip after a visit from the police who had indicated to us that these leaflets and posters on the walls “could violate the national security act”.
“It seems the government uses this law to put pressure on the companies yellow”, he said, in reference to the color assigned to the pro-democracy movement, as opposed to blue denoting the shops favourable to those in power.
The first arrests under the new law have been carried out Wednesday, when thousands of people braved the ban to demonstrate in order to scroll on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the handover in 1997. Most were arrested because they were wearing flags, or leaflets for independence.