Hong Kong: Internet freedom and more under threat

10.12.2015 - Tony Henderson

Hong Kong: Internet freedom and more under threat

Filibustering is a contentious issue in Hong Kong but this does not deter Legislative Council members Raymond Wong Yuk-man, Ray Chan Chi-chuen, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Gary Fan Kwok-wai who plan to use the tactic to stall the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, dubbed “Internet Article 23”, process.

Not all local legislators are knowledgeable about the bill, and have admitted to the media that they do not fully understand potential restrictions on online activity posed by the passing of the controversial new legislation.

The proposed bill could allow the law to uphold restrictions on freedom of expression, besides providing exemptions for the use of copyrighted works for the purposes of parody, satire, pastiche, caricature, quotation and news reporting.

However, use that does not fall into one of these latter categories could lead to a criminal investigation on the commercial front, which impinges on individual use also, with those concerns that the new amendments could make it an offence to live stream the likes of game-playing and would disallow screen captures of TV shows and movies.

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok criticised the government saying this bill should have been under discussion long before now, to fully show legislators its merits, given that there are such merits. Or, that they should have accepted lawmakers’ amendments at the Bills Committee level before sending it to the Legislative Council’s general assembly.

Previously, Mok said he would vote down the bill if the amendments supported by the pro-democracy camp to protect Internet rights were rejected.

In the latest co-operation to filibuster, the Democratic Party, Civic Party and Labour Party have said they would try to speak for as long as possible at the “Internet Article 23” session.

Student group Scholarism has urged people to send emails to lawmakers asking them to cast opposition votes. It told the media that 7,618 people have sent 694,642 emails to 68 lawmakers.

With the recent election giving a majority to the pro-Beijing camp, however, the government may have already secured the votes it needs to pass the bill.

Another group, more recently on the scene, Hong Kong Indigenous, is urging people to joined a rally in what they term a “black bloc” tactic. Internet freedom advocacy group, Keyboard Frontline, is also organising to rally outside the Legislative Council to oppose the bill – delayed due to a ‘negotiated’ lack of quorum on the day.

Keyboard Frontline spokesperson Ms Glacier Kwong said that the group will dismiss the rally if people attempted to storm the LegCo, adding the group cannot control the crowded after their official rally had ended.

Localist group Hong Kong Indigenous linked protesters are to wear black jackets, face masks and trousers, in order to adopt a “black bloc” tactic to conceal their identities.

There is little doubt that the Umbrella Movement is continuing to show it’s worth in these protests protecting the rights of the people of Hong Kong with renewed vigour.

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