Carrie Lam says her government is “serious” about tackling the spread of “disinformation, hate and lies”.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the government was working on “fake news” legislation to tackle “disinformation, hate and lies” as concerns grow over media freedoms in the country. the territory under Chinese domination.
Under Beijing’s leadership, Hong Kong has taken an authoritarian turn since the imposition of a sweeping national security law in 2020, with a tendency towards “patriotism” pervading most aspects of life in the city.
A major overhaul of public broadcaster RTHK, led by a newly appointed bureaucrat with no media experience, is widely seen as a signal that government red lines will soon encircle journalism as they have other sectors, such as education.
Speaking at her weekly press conference, Lam said the government was looking for “fake news,” but added that she did not have a timeline for the legislation.
“The fake news law requires a lot of research, especially (on) how foreign governments are tackling this increasingly disturbing trend of spreading inaccurate information, disinformation, hate and lies about social networks, ”she said.
“We will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is causing to many people.”
China has some of the most restrictive disinformation laws while elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, Singapore and Malaysia have been criticized for broad-worded legislation on “fake news”.
Lam’s comments come a day after RTHK announced that the public broadcaster would not renew the contract of its reporter Nabela Qoser, known for her difficult questioning of Lam and other officials during anti-government protests in 2019.
RTHK has also started removing some of its archives from its YouTube and social media channels, prompting online activists to save some of the content on blockchain platforms.
Another RTHK journalist, Bao Choy, was found guilty in court last month of “inappropriately accessing public records” for a documentary on police handling of a mob attack on protesters, journalists and pro-democracy passers-by in 2019.
His documentary had won an award from the local press the day before, but RTHK chose not to accept it.
“Getting producers to delete their jobs so that the public cannot access the information is a mistake,” Bao Choy wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Deleting the history so that there is no record of things is a mistake. Information is good for the company, transparency is good for the company, record keeping is good for the company. “
The July 2019 attack in northern Yuen Long District, when more than 100 men in white T-shirts hitting people with sticks and poles at a train station, has drawn widespread criticism from police, including allegations of collusion with triad gangsters, which police deny.
The courts have yet to convict any of the attackers.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Hong Kong 80th out of 180 in terms of press freedom in 2020, up from 70th in 2015.
The group warned that the national security law was “particularly dangerous for journalists”.