What you need to know
- Google has reportedly decided to stop responding directly to data requests from Hong Kong authorities.
- The move comes after China's imposition of a Hong Kong national security law, which has received strong criticism from the Trump administration.
- Google will now direct authorities in Hong Kong to pursue data requests through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the U.S.
Google will no longer respond directly to data requests coming from Hong Kong authorities. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Washington Post has claimed the search giant has notified Hong Kong police that it will now direct officials to pursue data requests through a Mutual Legal Assistant Treaty with the U.S.
As noted by the publication, requests made through the process will be routed through the Justice Department, and that can take weeks, or in some cases, months. The move comes a month after China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong, which has drawn sharp criticism from the Trump administration and further raised tensions between the two nations. Along with Google, Facebook and Twitter had also stopped reviewing data requests from Hong Kong soon after the national security law was enacted.
A Google spokesperson told the Washington Post that it has "not produced data in response to new requests from Hong Kong authorities" since the new security law was imposed and that it still "remains the case." The spokesperson added:
As always, authorities outside the U.S. may seek data needed for criminal investigations through diplomatic procedures. We carefully review all requests for user data and push back on overly broad ones to protect our users' privacy
Responding to the report, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Police said that they will "continue to request information or cooperation" from organizations to help with investigations under established privacy guidelines.