Posted on August 30, 2019 at 6:12 AM
Amid recent controversies about the use of the Internet in the country, the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA) announced on Wednesday that it dismisses any plans or plots to restrict the nation’s open Internet network, as reported by several news outlets
The institution, through the release, warned the community that any attempt to impose insensible limitations or restrictions on the open access to the Internet in the country could be counterproductive and would result in additional restrictions since the original one wouldn’t be effective.
The HKISPA observed that any restrictions could put the nation behind a big firewall, in the same mold as the invasive and restrictive Mainland China.
The End of the Open Internet in Hong Kong?
The organization clarified that the mentioned restrictions, albeit slight in concept and at the beginning, can represent the end of the open Internet in the Asian nation, and can impact its ability to receive and welcome international companies to position their businesses, operations, and investments in Hong Kong.
While China is known around the world for its government exercising a strong censorship-based approach and blocking dozens of pages it may deem as potentially inappropriate for netizens to see, Hong Kong’s online universe is currently unrestricted, and the HKISPA aims to keep it that way.
The HKISPA also observed that any hypothetical online restrictions in Hong Kong should be exposed to industry consultation before any decisions or measures are taken. The organization also pointed out that a restricted Internet network would be detrimental to the nation’s reputation as a finance and telecommunications hub in Asia, more specifically, the APAC area.
The HKISPA’s institutional position was revealed after several reports came out from the Island’s media platforms that the local authorities have considered the idea of issuing executive orders to ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to stop some specific online applications.
Right now, the Asian country has been filled with protests that are nearing the three-month mark. They started because of a response from the opposition to the extradition bill raised by the authorities, and have now evolved to cover other subjects and to ask for a more democratic approach.
A very particular aspect of the protests in Hong Kong is their online presence, which is a concept that goes hand in hand with our current society and its everyday life. Social media apps such as Telegram have been used by people in Hong Kong to voice their unhappiness about how certain things are managed by the government.
As an example of the situation explained above, Telegram was the hosting platform of a protest from last week, in which the people involved built a human chain across the whole city that coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Chain demonstration, in 1989.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam implied while speaking to reporters this week that the possibility to use emergency measures to mitigate the increasingly violent protest is still on the table. The idea was actually suggested by pro-Beijing media outlets.
Lam stated that every law in Hong Kong would come into consideration if it shows the potential to provide a legal instrument to stop the violence in the country. She said that the government is “responsible” for mulling those options.
Lam is under growing pressure from Beijing, China’s capital city, to mitigate protests before October 1 arrives, which is the date of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, per information provided to CNN from a pro-government legislator.
A Recipe for Failure
And while it is true that Lam has stated she is willing to open a dialogue with protesters to try and find a political and peaceful solution to the conflict, she dismissed any potential compromises on the opposition’s five crucial demands, and that situation has been met with criticism and frustration by the latter party.
China has, evidently, spotted the fact that the online platform is often used as an instrument for rallying support. As a result, China has purportedly worked very hard to decrease Telegram’s influence on society. In the month of June, the widely known social media and an instant messaging platform was the victim of a significant DDoS attack from IP addresses that were, in their majority, from mainland China.
China has also generated lots of Twitter accounts, even thousands of them, with the clear objective of promoting political distress in Hong Kong. Almost a thousand of these accounts, exactly 936, have been banned.