Doxxers to face up to 5 years in jail under new law - RTHK
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Doxxers to face up to 5 years in jail under new law

2021-05-11 HKT 21:06
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  • The government says existing privacy laws do not address recent doxxing cases. File photo: RTHK
    The government says existing privacy laws do not address recent doxxing cases. File photo: RTHK
The government is proposing to introduce laws to curb doxxing, with offenders facing a maximum fine of HK$1 million and imprisonment of up to five years.

Officials have been considering new laws to tackle privacy infringement with police officers and judges, among others, becoming targets of doxxing since the start of anti-government protests in 2019.

The administration has had to get injunction orders from the court to curb such actions.

In a proposal submitted to the Legislative Council, the government says people would fall foul of the law if they disclose any personal data without consent, with the intention to threaten, intimidate, harass or cause psychological harm to someone or his or her immediate family members.

"The current Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance... was not intended to address the doxxing acts committed in recent years," officials said.

"The personal data involved in most doxxing cases was recklessly dispensed and repeatedly reposted on online platforms, making it impossible for the privacy commissioner to trace the sources of the doxxing contents and ascertain the identity of the data users concerned or whether the personal data concerned was obtained from the data user 'without the data user’s consent'. Therefore, the privacy commissioner is unable to take further follow-up actions," they added.

The government also suggested giving powers for the privacy commissioner to carry out criminal investigations and initiate prosecutions.

These include requesting information or documents from people, as well as seeking court warrants to enter any premises and seize items.

The privacy commissioner should also be given the power to demand the removal of doxxing contents, officials said, noting that current requests are not mandatory from the legal perspective.

The government plans to submit the bill to Legco within this year.

In the first conviction of its kind last year, a former telecoms worker was sentenced to two years in jail after he was found guilty of doxxing a relative of a police officer during the social unrest.

Chan King-hei was said to have spread information on a Telegram channel after obtaining the Chinese and English names, as well as the ID card and phone numbers of the father of a police inspector through the computer system of Hong Kong Telecom where he worked.

Chan was also found to have dishonestly obtained the personal particulars of 20 other police officers and some of their relatives, although the information was not made public.

He was found guilty of the dishonest use of computer and disclosing others’ data without consent.