Hong Kong internet users noticed last week that they could not access the HKChronicles site from certain computers. In a statement, its owner said he believed the authorities had blocked access.
Police declined to comment, but on Thursday one of the city’s largest internet providers, Hong Kong Broadband Network, confirmed receiving an order to turn it off. “We have deactivated the connection to the website to comply with the law on national security”, the company said.
HKChronicles, which remains accessible from abroad and in Hong Kong through virtual private networks, is a controversial site. He collected accounts and images of the huge and often violent pro-democracy protests that rocked the semi-autonomous territory in 2019.
The site also pays particular attention to allegations of excessive use of violence by the police and lists companies supporting the pro-democracy movement.
When police began removing badges identifying police officers during clashes with protesters, the site began collecting officers’ personal data – a tactic known as “doxing.” This practice of disclosing the personal information of people for the purpose of harming them is illegal in Hong Kong.
HKChronicles also revealed the names and contact details of many pro-Beijing figures. Similar sites also deliver similar information on pro-democracy activists.
A law that sounds the “death knell for freedom”
In mainland China, access to websites is restricted thanks to a “Great Firewall” – pun on the “Great Wall” of China and the “firewall”. Content on Chinese social networks can be deleted or censored.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory, remains outside this system, which has helped make it an international business center. Indeed, unlike neighboring mainland China, Hong Kong people have free access to the Internet, but Beijing’s detractors fear that the new legislation will spell the end of this freedom.
As a reminder, Beijing imposed a draconian national security law in June to end the protest. It allows the police to order access providers to remove sites or content considered to be infringing.