“Naomi Chan hereby denounces ISPs that cooperate with the Chinese and Hong Kong government to restrict the citizens’ right and freedom to access information,” Chan said in a post on HKChronicles dated Jan. 7.
Chan advised Hong Kongers to “make early preparations to counter future Internet blockage at a larger scale, and to face the darkness before dawn.”
The move to block HKChronicles has intensified concerns that Beijing is asserting more control over the city and breaking its promise of letting the former British colony maintain separate civil rights and political systems for 50 years after the communist-ruled mainland took over in 1997.
It has also prompted fears that internet freedoms in Hong Kong could be curtailed, akin to the “Great Firewall of China,” a system of internet censorship on the mainland which blocks foreign search engines and social media platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter and scrubs the internet of keywords deemed sensitive by the Chinese government.
Glacier Kwong, a digital rights and political activist based in Germany, wrote in a Twitter post last week that Hong Kong has “abused legal procedures and other means to hinder the freeflow of info online” in the last 18 months.
“The Hong Kong government is stifling Hong Kong people’s freedom on the Internet,” she wrote in another tweet. “An open Internet has always been the cornerstone of freedom in a place. Disrupting Internet freedom also undermines the flow of information, freedom of communication, and freedom of the press.”
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong last June, aimed at quelling dissent in the semi-autonomous territory after mass peaceful demonstrations against a now-withdrawn extradition bill later morphed into months of anti-government protests that at times descended into violent clashes between protesters and police.
The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in the city’s affairs.
Under Article 43 of the national security law, police have the authority to order “a person who published information or the relevant service provider to delete the information or provide assistance.”