Hong Kong introduces “fake news” law amid growing concerns about press freedom

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Saturday that he is currently drafting a “fake news” bill aimed at combating what local governments consider to be “misinformation, hatred, and lies.” Freedom of the press in the city.

At a news conference, Mr Lam said the government was investigating “fake news” in the city, but did not disclose the legislative date.

“The fake news law requires a lot of research, especially [on] How foreign governments are addressing this increasingly worrisome trend of spreading inaccurate information, false information, hatred, and lies on social media, “Lam told reporters. “We will continue to take this issue seriously because it is causing damage to many people.”

Under Beijing’s direction, Hong Kong underwent a rapid authoritarian shift after China’s dominant communist regime imposed drastic national security legislation in 2020.

Critics say vague verbal laws punishing crimes such as separatism and collusion with foreign troops have been used as a tool to suppress dissidents. Since its entry into force, the city has seen a dramatic rollback of its freedom as dozens of democratic supporters have been prosecuted or convicted under law or similar law. The crackdown also aroused concerns about further restrictions on the city’s freedom of the press.

Prior to the recent announcement, Mr. Lam told lawmakers in a Q & A session at the Legislative Council last month that the municipality was “the biggest victim of fake news.” According to Lam, false information made all government jobs “extremely difficult.”

“The SAR government is the biggest victim of fake news … what we said was quickly distorted and criticized,” Ram said at the time.

Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison last month, and nine other opponents organized an unauthorized rally during a major anti-Democratization movement in 2019. He was sentenced to imprisonment or suspended sentence for participating.

Pro-Beijing media and Hong Kong government officials have also threatened to close the local independent newspaper Apple Daily, one of the few free media remaining in the city, founded by Lai.

In another case accused and accused by US lawmakers, Hong Kong’s Epoch Times printing plant was attacked on April 12 by a hammer-wielding intruder who damaged the company’s computers and printing equipment. The attack was also blamed by lawmakers, experts, and organizations around the world.

Hong Kong Police Chief Chris Tang Ping-keung has signaled support for a new law on “fake news” in Hong Kong.

“I think it’s good to have such a law for all the laws that can help us to support national security and make Hong Kong safer,” said the Hong Kong Police Commissioner. Said when he appeared on the TVB show, “Straight Talk.”

In response to the news, the Hong Kong Foreign Press Association said in a statement that such laws were “always used to curb critical press and freedom of speech.”

“Journalist has tackled a variety of challenges, including new police restrictions on accreditation, prosecution of media members, increased pressure on RTHK’s editorial independence, visa concerns, and thug attacks on newspaper printing factories. Was included. ” The statement saidNote, Hong Kong has fallen to 80th place Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, From the 18th of 2002.

Freedom of the press in Hong Kong has steadily declined since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

“At the Foreign Correspondents’ Meeting on World Press Freedom Day, Hong Kong wants to carry out its essential mission by expressing solidarity with journalists who are harassing, imprisoning, or endangering their lives.” I added.

Benedict Rogers, co-founder of the Conservative Human Rights Commission, called the move “the latest attack on media freedom” in Hong Kong. Twitter statement..

Alex Wu and Reuters contributed to this report.

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