(HONG KONG) — BY: MEREDITH DELISO
Facebook has suspended government requests to access user data in Hong Kong following the enactment of a contentious new national security law, the social network announced Monday.
“We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts,” a Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement.
The company is currently reviewing the law to understand the implications for Facebook and its users, a spokesperson said.
“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” a Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Facebook-owned messaging apps WhatsApp and Telegram have also issued separate statements Monday making the same announcement. ABC News has reached out to both companies for comment.
Last week, Beijing rolled out the new national security law, which is aimed at curtailing unrest and protests in Hong Kong by punishing acts of secession, subversion and terrorism. There is a maximum penalty of life in prison for breaking the law.
Critics say the law will “authoritarian-ize” Hong Kong and end its “One Country Two Systems” framework, established in 1997 when the city was handed back to China from Britain. Social platforms such as Facebook are blocked in mainland China but not in Hong Kong.
Since the wide-ranging law was passed on June 30, at least 10 people have been arrested for allegedly violating it. That includes a Hong Kong resident who was arrested on July 1 after allegedly driving a motorcycle into police during protests while carrying a banner with a political slogan that is now outlawed.
Several prominent activists have also fled Hong Kong since the law went into effect.
On Monday, Hong Kong’s government released details on police enforcement of the new law. According to the AP, platforms and publishers may be ordered to take down any message that is “likely to constitute an offense endangering national security or is likely to cause the occurrence of an offense endangering national security.”
ABC News’ Fergal Gallagher contributed to this report.
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