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Hong Kong Government Considering ‘Ban on the Internet’ to Control Protests

Many of the rallies are organised by the youth in online chat groups.

by Edoardo Liotta
08 October 2019, 7:41am

(L) A Hong Kong street during a protest. Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash. (R) A phone screen. Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash.

A ban on the internet? It’s possible if protests continue in Hong Kong.

Yesterday, a member of Hong Kong’s top advisory board said that the government would not rule out controlling the internet in response to the ongoing protests, Hong Kong Free Press reported.

The pro-democracy rallies are now on their fourth month and escalated once again on Saturday after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam enacted an anti-mask law that prohibits demonstrators from wearing masks. This is a colonial-era emergency law that has not been used in over 50 years. This further enraged the public.

Ip Kwok-Him, a member of the Executive Council, said they are monitoring the effectiveness of the new law in putting an end to riots and that they don’t plan to stop there.

“At this stage, the government will consider all legal means to stop the riots,” he said during a commercial radio programme yesterday. “We would not rule out a ban on the internet.”

He did not specify what this ban would include.

The internet has played a big role in the demonstrations as protesters use social media and apps like the messenger Telegram to organise themselves.

The ban could affect the lives of people in Hong Kong, who enjoy a relatively free internet compared to those in mainland China. In the mainland, the internet is heavily censored by the government, which limits access to websites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

In an interview with TVB news, Executive Council member Regina Ip said that an internet ban in Hong Kong would “cause a massive shock” and that it is “not worthwhile.”

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