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Google won't respond to data requests from Hong Kong authorities

Google ends cooperation with Hong Kong authorities in response to sweeping national security law

In response to a new national security law imposed by China, Google says it will no longer fulfill data requests from Hong Kong authorities. Google has not fulfilled any such requests since the law went in to effect this past June.

Google’s move comes in response to a sweeping national security law targeting vaguely defined crimes such as subversion of state power, colluding with foreign powers, terrorism and succession. 

The law also allows for the arrest of those who aid or protect suspects accused of violating the law, along with those who refuse to comply with authorities requesting data related to national security. Google is just one of many tech companies with team members located in Hong Kong.

The national security law has drawn criticism from the Trump administration and, as a result, has further raised tensions between the US and China.

"As always, authorities outside the US may seek data needed for criminal investigations through diplomatic procedures," Google said in a statement to Reuters.

The company added that it reviewed all requests for user data and, to protect the privacy of its users, pushed back on data requests it deemed to be "overly broad."

On Thursday, Google notified Hong Kong police that instead, it would direct officials to purse data requests through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US. According to The Washington Post, doing so would involve routing data requests through the US Justice Department.

A spokesman for the police said it will "continue to request information or cooperation" from relevant organizations to assist with investigations and will do so with respect to the law and previously established privacy guidelines.

Though it has only been in effect for a short time, the national security law has had a widespread effect in Hong Kong. While many residents chose to delete their social media accounts following the law’s passage, many activists chose to flee the city altogether. 

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