WhatsApp has suspended its processing of requests for user data from Hong Kong law enforcement agencies, in response to China's imposition of a new national security law on the city, reports The Wall Street Journal.

whatsapp

The company is "pausing" such reviews "pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts," a WhatsApp spokeswoman said in response to a Wall Street Journal query on Monday.

The decision by WhatsApp comes after China fast-tracked legislation that allows local authorities to supervise and regulate the city's previously unrestricted internet. The controversial new law, which took effect on Tuesday, criminalizes acts that were previously considered protected speech under Hong Kong law.

As the report notes, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter have operated freely in Hong Kong for many years, allowing residents of the semi-autonomous metropolitan area to express political views online, outside the grip of China's "Great Firewall" that restricts internet use on the mainland. The fear is that the new law brings Hong Kong another step closer to the authoritarian digital censorship that ringfences mainland internet users.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been blocked in China for years, with the country's government favoring home grown alternative services that it can more easily regulate. Encrypted messaging service Telegram was also blocked inside China after it became popular with the country's human rights lawyers, while several domestic VPNs – which are commonly used to evade censorship and access services abroad – were shut down after authorities said they were unauthorized to run.

Western powers have condemned the imposition of the new security law in Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom considers it to be a "clear and serious" violation of the Joint Declaration that was signed between the two countries when the former colony was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

TheFluffyDuck Avatar
24 months ago
Watch Apple do nothing for the human rights of Hong Kong people. But a rainbow WWDC Lanyard? Eat your heart out.

Note: That's not an attack on LGBT people, but on Apple for being hypocrites in the issues they follow when it comes to their profit margin. I will gladly retract this if Apple takes a stand, but they won't.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
24 months ago
I believe this means Facebook is now a greater supporter of human rights and has more of a backbone when dealing with China than Apple. Who would have thought?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apparatchik Avatar
24 months ago
China not only blocks those services for censorship and political control but for economic reasons as well: they wanted to home grow their own services by blocking foreign competition. The West should block Chinese apps and services just like India did last week, unless the Chinese allow fair competition in the search, messaging, social network market, their apps shouldnt be allow to operate in The West.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kyleh22 Avatar
24 months ago

I believe this means Facebook is now a greater supporter of human rights and has more of a backbone when dealing with China than Apple. Who would have thought?
That's b/c Apple is profiting in China while the Facebook suite isn't allowed to operate there. It's much easier to have a hardliner approach when you only have upside potential.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsmilo Avatar
24 months ago
What did the UK expect when they handed it back to China?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chancha Avatar
24 months ago

Hong Kong always belonged to China. The Brits only leased it for 99 years.
Hong Kong belongs to its people, who happen to be ethnically Chinese, since the population is mostly made up by folks escaping from the Northern border, guess who - the Communist Chinese regime. The person you quoted was questioning the morality of the UK handing this place to the very same regime that those locals risked their lives escaping away from.

And if you have to be politically precise, the Brits "took" it from Qing Dynasty, which was taken over by the Nationalist (KMT), together with the treaties the Brits signed with Qing, the party "moved" to Taiwan, where in more than enough ways the island is an autonomously independent state. The fact that the UK decided to hand Hong Kong to the CCP, which was founded *later* than both Hong Kong as a city and also Nationalist China, is more than questionable if not disgraceful.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday May 16, 2022 9:57 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5, the fifth major update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5 comes more than two months after the release of tvOS 15.4, an update that brought support for captive WiFi networks. tvOS 15.5 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple...