(15th November 2019, Hong Kong) The Internet Society Hong Kong (ISOC HK) filed a civil action in court on Monday (11th November), seeking to challenge the government’s interim injunction to affect free speech online. The High Court today heard the case.
Judgement was issued this afternoon which the injunction will continue to be effective. However, taking into account the legal perspectives of ISOC HK, the judge narrowed the scope of the original injunction and amended that only those with the intent to incite will be found guilty under the new injunction order. The judgement also made clear that platform operators are not required under the injunction order to exercise instantaneous censorship of the online content of all posts on the platforms, or to police or filter out information or messages.
The original injunction order was believed to be vague and overbroad. Commenting on the judgement, the Internet Society Hong Kong and IT legislator Charles Mok remarked that with the judgement today, the new injunction order has moved closer to existing criminal offences which proving intent is necessary for the enforcement authorities to take legal actions. However, the new injunction order still seeks to create chilling effect and force the public to engage in self-censorship.
Both the IT organisation and Mok expressed their concerns that even with a restricted injunction order, the government may issue new injunction orders or apply the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to introduce Internet shutdown and that must be stopped at all costs.
They expressed their gratitude to the legal team for their efforts and will discuss the next step forward. They were also grateful to the support of the public who has participated in the crowdfunding campaign.