TikTok says it will exit Hong Kong market within days


  • China
  • Tuesday, 07 Jul 2020

HONG KONG (Reuters): TikTok said it will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late Monday (July 6), as other technology companies including Facebook Inc have suspended processing government requests for user data in the region.

The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China's establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

"In light of recent events, we've decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong," a TikTok spokesman said in response to a Reuters question about its commitment to the market.

The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app's user data is not stored in China.

Facebook Inc, Google Inc and Twitter Inc suspended processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong, they said on Monday.

Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said in a statement it was "pausing" reviews for all of its services "pending further assessment of the National Security Law".

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect last week.

Twitter cited "grave concerns" about the law's implications.

Google said it would continue reviewing Hong Kong government requests for removals of user-generated content from its services.

Twitter declined to comment, while Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Social networks often apply localised restrictions to posts that violate local laws but not their own rules for acceptable speech.

Facebook restricted 394 such pieces of content in Hong Kong in the second half of 2019, up from eight in the first half of the year, according to its transparency report.

Tech companies have long operated freely in Hong Kong, a regional financial hub where internet access has been unaffected by the firewall imposed in mainland China, which blocks Google, Twitter and Facebook.

Apple said Monday it does not receive requests for user content directly from the Hong Kong government. Instead, it requires authorities there to submit requests under a mutual US-Hong Kong legal assistance treaty.

The US Department of Justice receives the requests and reviews them for "legal conformance", Apple said.

"We're assessing the new law, which went into effect less than a week ago, and we have not received any content requests since the law went into effect," Apple said in a statement.

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TikTok , China , Hong Kong , exit , market , security law

   

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