Daily Digest (7/8)

Social Media Firms Suspend Review of Hong Kong Data Requests; Secretary of State Pompeo Raises Possibility of US Banning TikTok; Clearview AI to Stop Offering Facial-Recognition Technology in Canada; Vietnam Jails Facebook User for 8 Years Over ‘Anti-State’ Posts. Click “Continue reading” below.

Social Media Firms Suspend Review of Hong Kong Data Requests

Google, Facebook and Twitter are among the tech companies that have suspended processing requests for user data from Hong Kong law-enforcement agencies after China imposed a national-security law on the city.

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a Monday statement, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Earlier Monday, a representative for Facebook-owned WhatsApp said reviews would be paused “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human-rights due diligence and consultations with human-rights experts.”

TikTok, a short-video platform owned by Chinese technology giant Bytedance Inc., said Tuesday in China that it would pull its app from Google and Apple’s app stores in Hong Kong within a week, in light of “recent developments.”

The moves have put U.S. tech titans on a potential collision course with Beijing, after China pushed the national-security legislation that includes a provision mandating local authorities to take measures to supervise and regulate the city’s previously unfettered internet, the Journal reports.

Rules for implementing the new law announced by Hong Kong’s government late Monday, to take effect Tuesday, say that if police suspect an “electronic message” may endanger “national security,” authorities may ask the publisher, platform, host or network service provider to remove or restrict access to it.

Those who publish messages and don’t comply face a hefty fine and imprisonment for one year, according to the rules.

Facebook, WhatsApp and its Instagram service, along with Twitter and Google unit YouTube, have long operated freely in Hong Kong without restrictions from China’s firewall that applies to mainland internet users.

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Secretary of State Pompeo Raises Possibility of US Banning TikTok

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is among many officials floating the idea of restricting use of TikTok in the United States.

The debate demonstrates how the growing rift between America and China is beginning to extend far beyond politics and trade, Forbes reports.

TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times since it was launched in China under the name Douyin in 2016. The company, which operates outside of China, is owned and operated by a Chinese-based company, ByteDance.

ByteDance, currently valued at about $75 billion, recently hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance.

Mayer was hired, in part, to address the growing bipartisan congressional backlash against TikTok and its Chinese ownership, Forbes reports.

Pompeo told Fox News Tuesday that the U.S. was “certainly looking” at restricting the use of TikTok and other Chinese-owned social media apps in the U.S.

He also warned that consumers should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” according to the report.

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Clearview AI to Stop Offering Facial-Recognition Technology in Canada

Clearview AI, the U.S. company that provides biometric security software, will no longer offer its facial-recognition services in Canada.

It reportedly is pulling out of Canada in response to a joint investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), BetaKit.com reports.

The New York-based company also has suspended its contract with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) indefinitely.

OPC’s investigation followed concerns about whether Clearview AI is collecting personal information without consent.

Clearview AI is currently under two investigations in Canada, both begun in February. One is reviewing whether the company’s practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation.

The other probe relates to the RCMP’s use of Clearview’s technology and is being undertaken by the OPC.

In a news release published Monday, privacy regulators said the first investigation remained open, and that the OPC planned to complete and release the findings of its RCMP investigation at a later date.

“An ongoing issue under investigation by the authorities is the deletion of the personal information of Canadians that Clearview has already collected as well as the cessation of Clearview’s collection of Canadians’ personal information,” the OPC said.

“The privacy authorities appreciate Clearview AI’s cooperation to date on the ongoing investigation and look to the company’s continued cooperation as it is brought to conclusion.”

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Vietnam Jails Facebook User for 8 Years Over ‘Anti-State’ Posts

A court in Vietnam on Tuesday sentenced a 29-year-old man to eight years in prison after convicting him of uploading anti-state posts to his Facebook account, the security ministry said.

Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and tolerates little criticism, Reuters reports.

Nguyen Quoc Duc Vuong was charged with “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the state” at a one-day trial in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, the Ministry of Public Security said.

Vuong was accused of livestreaming 110 hours of videos and writing 366 posts on his Facebook account to smear the image of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s founding leader, and spread anti-state propaganda, the ministry said.

Reuters could not reach Vuong’s lawyer for comment.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, called Vuong’s sentencing “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“Vietnam must recognize that expressing political views contrary to Communist Party line should not be a crime,” he said.

The court also will place Vuong under three years of house arrest after serving his jail term, the ministry said.

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— By DPN Staff