Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram yesterday announced the suspension of all cooperation with the authorities in Hong Kong. The companies pause the communication, when requested by the authorities, of information concerning their users in the name of freedom of expression.
The list keeps growing, Google and Apple will do the same. Apple said it was waiting to assess Hong Kong’s new security law, which raised concerns about the criminalization of protesters using the messages they were able to send.
Since the entry into force of this law last week, no request for user data has yet reached Hong Kong at Apple. The latter also insisted on the procedure to be followed in the event of a request, in a declaration made to Bloomberg : ” Apple has always demanded that all requests for content from local law enforcement be made under the U.S. and Hong Kong mutual legal assistance treaty. As part of this process, the United States Department of Justice reviews the legal compliance of the Hong Kong authorities’ requests “Said the Cupertino company.
Google and Twitter have also said they will stop processing requests from the Hong Kong government while they review the new law.
For its part TikTok has announced that it will leave the Hong Kong market in a few days. The short video application belonging to the Chinese company ByteDance has decided to withdraw from the platforms of the region ” in light of recent events “Said a spokesperson to Reuters.
The company, now run by former Walt Disney director Kevin Mayer, said the app’s user data is not stored in China. Previously, TikTok had stated that it would not comply with any request from the Chinese government to censor the content or access the data of the users of the application, and it has never been asked to do so so far.
Although the app is Chinese, TikTok has been designed so that mainland China cannot access it. The application was designed for a more general audience and has an equivalent in China known as Douyin. This withdrawal would make TikTok lose 150,000 Hong Kong users, a straw when you know that the application has been downloaded two billion times in the rest of the world. For the time being, the withdrawal of TikTok from Hong Kong does not mean a replacement by Douyin, said a spokesman for ByteDance.
Finally, despite its American leadership, the Chinese nationality of TikTok is perceived as a source of potential problems by the American government. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – equivalent to our Minister of Foreign Affairs – hinted yesterday that the app and other Chinese social media apps could be banned in the United States, the option was in any case seriously studied .