New police powers to enforce national security law - RTHK
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New police powers to enforce national security law

2020-07-06 HKT 22:24
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  • Anyone who publishes messages posing a threat to national security and fails to remove them can be jailed for up to a year.
    Anyone who publishes messages posing a threat to national security and fails to remove them can be jailed for up to a year.
The government on Monday unveiled "implementation rules" of Article 43 of the national security law by law-enforcement authorities, which go into effect on Tuesday. Failure to comply could lead to jail terms and fines.

On electronic messages deemed to be endangering national security on electronic platforms, police can ask those who publish them to remove, restrict or stop anyone from receiving them.

It says as much as the police chief needs to ask for the permission from the Security Secretary for that, platform and network providers are also covered by the rule.

And if the individuals who publish the messages cannot cooperate at once, leading to the possibility that the public would be "seriously affected" online, police can ask the magistrates to issue warrants to seize relevant electronic equipment.

And officers can also ask for court warrants, to demand service providers hand over records about anyone's identity or help in decoding.

Individuals who fail to comply with the police request can face a fine of up to HK$100,000 and be jailed for one year. For service providers, they face the same amount of fine but six months of imprisonment.

The implementation rules also say local law enforcement will seek information from organisations in Taiwan.

Under Article 43 of the law, a political organisation of a foreign country or outside the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, or an agent of authorities of the organisation, could be asked to provide information, without mentioning Taiwan.

Those that fail to comply face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a HK$100,000 fine if convicted. Those found guilty of providing inaccurate or incomplete information could be jailed for two years and fined HK$100,000.

And under the plan, police at or above the rank of assistant commissioner would be able to authorise searches at premises without a warrant under exceptional circumstances, such as urgent situations.

As for the power to carry out interception of communications, the SAR government says such activities and secret survellience operations need the nod from the Chief Executive, but for less intrusive covert surveillance, it just needs the approval from a directorate-level police officer.