Google will no longer respond directly to data requests from Hong Kong authorities, the company announced earlier in the day. The decision is in feedback to the national security law that Beijing enforced in Hong Kong in early July. Google, alongside Facebook and Twitter, suspended reviewing data requests from Hong Kong shortly after the law passed. Now, Google plans to seize cooperation with Hong Kong authorities altogether.
Authorities will have to make data requests through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US. According to The Washington Post, that’s a very long process that involves the Justice Department and can take weeks or even months.
Until recently, Hong Kong has had an open and free internet, unlike mainland China. Some say the law has the power to make individuals and companies remove content. As The Washington Post explains it “targets vaguely defined crimes including subversion of state power, collusion with foreign powers, secession and terrorism.”
After the law was declared, TikTok pulled out of Hong Kong, and Naver pulled its data centers. While Facebook and Twitter seized to review data requests from Hong Kong authorities, it’s not yet certain if they will take a more permanent stance like Google.