Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has joined a group of social media giants in halting its work with law enforcement services in Hong Kong. Alongside WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, and Twitter, the company will no longer process data request from Hong Kong authorities.
According to the South China Morning Post, LinkedIn and the other companies took the action in response to new security laws in Hong Kong. Under those changes, new crimes were created. For example, conspiring with foreigners to incite hatred towards the Chinese government.
This new crime carries a sentence of life imprisonment even though it seems like a groundless accusation. The rules are controversial because they apparently break a pact China made when it took Hong Kong back from the British in 1997.
Specifically, the Chinese promised Hong Kong would enjoy more independent freedoms compared to mainland China. These freedoms would last for 50 years after the switch. Many see the new crimes as China compromising that promise.
Leaving the Market?
As for LinkedIn, the company says it has paused all requests to work with law enforcement. In the report, the Morning Post says the government is likely to retaliate against the companies. Specifically, it could block their websites in the region.
Some believe this could lead those companies to simply remove themselves from the Hong Kong market entirely. Hong Kong IT-sector lawmaker Charles Mok said he thinks companies may reconsider their position in the country.
“They will be worried and start asking themselves if they will be arrested, even if they are just in transit through Hong Kong,” he said.