Hong Kong Launches Snitching Hotline

Human rights activists push back on way to report alleged violations of national security law
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2020 9:03 AM CST
Hong Kong Launches Snitching Hotline
In this Jan. 1, 2019, photo, pro-independence demonstrator Tony Chung, center, marches during a protest in Hong Kong. Chung was denied bail after being arrested last month and charged with secession under the city's national security law.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The Hong Kong police really want to know if there's anyone in your neighborhood who's violating the national security law put in place earlier this year to stop secessionist, subversive, or terrorist activity. Toward that end, there's now a hotline that people can call to effectively tattle on any such activity they feel falls under law's umbrella, per the BBC. "The National Security Service Reporting Hotline receives only information related to national security, including information, photographs, audio, or video," the Hong Kong Police Force noted on Facebook in announcing the service. Residents can send any "evidence" by text, email, or via the WeChat messaging app. The hotline won't answer calls or respond back, police say, and no info from the person making the report will be collected, per the Independent.

Human rights groups are, unsurprisingly, not thrilled. "Informants may use this hotline against people who they dislike or are in a different political camp," a Human Rights Watch researcher tells AFP, via the BBC. Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong worries the effects could be far-reaching. "The new hotline will be a threat to foreign investors and ex-pats," he says, per the Independent. "No matter where [you are], your private conversations, business chats, social media posts, or school lectures can be reported." Although the police say the hotline officially launched Thursday, AsiaNews reports it started in September, and that in one month's time, the police received 1.2 million pieces of information. The national security law put into place by China in June has so far been used to arrest 28 protesters. Life in prison is the maximum sentence for the most serious offenses. (More Hong Kong stories.)

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