Mr President, because this adjournment motion relating to cyber security and Mr Snowden’s affair is a matter of global interest, I will make my comments in English.
Mr President, you may remember that last year I made a written council question to ask our government to disclose the number of times of data requests from different government departments to local Internet service providers. The number of these data requests in the last three years total almost 15,000, led by the Police and Customs. You may also notice that recently since the disclosure of the US government’s PRISM project, many US Internet companies have begun to request the US government to allow them to disclose the number of these data requests, including those related to crime investigation and prevention as well as national security. So I hope our government will continue to report the number of data requests to Internet service providers annually in future otherwise I will be prepared to ask every year for as long as I am here in this council.
My second request was made in my amendment in the last motion debate, the reactivation of the Inter-departmental Working Group on Computer Related Crime, to conduct an up-to-date review and policy reforms as necessary for the new cyber-crime and even surveillance environment our networks face today. That amendment was passed a couple hours ago. I hope and urge our government would take note and act on it.
Third, we need to review our current “Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance,” and its relative limited scope covering only government organizations, and how other organizations, governmental or not, including intelligence operations by countries or any governments outside of Hong Kong, may have engaged in surveillance activities on our networks without the knowledge of our people.
Fourth, our government must be more forthcoming in letting our citizens know what actions it may have taken to demand the US government in telling us what networks they have invaded, what data they have taken away and what they will be doing about any data taken away from us. Our people deserve this at the very least from our government, otherwise, just by saying that you cannot comment on individual cases, you are failing the people of Hong Kong.
The fifth and final request is that our government must give Mr Snowden any and all rights he is entitled to under Hong Kong law, and safeguard our judicial independence and not give in to any political pressure from any governments, be it Beijing or Washington. On this matter, I heard some of our pro-establishment colleagues calling for consulting Beijing while saying in almost the same breath that our government should follow Hong Kong laws. I cannot follow that logic that’s totally illogical and self-contradicting to me. All they are trying to do is to invite Beijing to interfere in Hong Kong affairs at the expense of our one country two systems, undermining the two systems part of this system in particular.
Mr President, I am afraid that although the disclosure made by Mr Snowden remain piecemeal and to be proven, totalitarian governments no doubt may seek to justify their widespread surveillance and censorship on their own citizens and people around the world. Internet users and Internet freedom have the most to lose in that. Being in Hong Kong, we must not forget that north of our border with the mainland is the land with the most severe censorship in the world against their own people. That is the difference between the Internet in China and the rest of the free world. The Internet is not just for everyone, in the end, the Internet’s core values are also for every one of us to defend.
Now it’s time for Hong Kong to show the world, whether Hong Kong can live up to Mr Snowden’s confidence in us as a city of free Internet, free expression, tolerance of dissent and rule of law, and if Hong Kong can take advantage of this attention on cyber security to improve our self-protection and defend our core values, one hopes that Hong Kong will see a silver lining.