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Hong Kong: Netizen Against Introduction of Internet Filtering

The Hong Kong government has issued a consultation paper on the “Review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance” last Friday (Oct 3). The first round of consultation will be lasted until end of January.

A most controversial issue is the suggestion on introduction of an internet filtering system in Hong Kong. In part 4 of the consultation paper, it states that the main issue at stake is:

Given the emergence of new forms of media, particularly the growing popularity of the Internet, members of the public consider it important that measures are taken to protect youngsters from the dissemination of obscene and indecent materials on such new media systems.

The government layouts a number of options:

Option one: co-regulation approach that demands Internet Service Providers to:

1. tighten up their service contracts with subscribers by incorporating specific clauses which prohibit subscribers from publishing obscene or indecent articles;

2. formulate measures against repeated offenders, which may involve limiting the bandwidth made available to such offenders or imposing temporary suspension or termination of service in case of contravention of contractual terms;

3. implement a voluntary labelling system and encourage webmasters to label their websites to indicate whether they are suitable for children and youngsters;

4. provide filtering services to subscribers for the purpose of filtering out web content which is not suitable for children and youngsters.

Option two is mandatory approach via legislation:

to make it mandatory for ISPs to provide filtering service to their subscribers so that
children and youngsters will be protected from web content not suitable to them. This would enable filtering of content from both local and overseas websites.

Option three is statutory approach, which targets at content providers:

1. websites are required to provide warnings if they display indecent materials;

2. an access control system is to be established to authenticate the age of the web users. For example, web users are required to input their credit card data before getting access to webpage containing indecent materials to ensure that they have attained the age of 18;

3. empower enforcement agencies, upon receipt of a judicial warrant, to issue a “take-down notice” to the indecent websites or the ISPs concerned; and

4. prosecute content providers who fail to comply with the statutory requirements.

Martinoei criticizes that all the suggestions imply an introduction of Great Fire Wall in Hong Kong:

蘇錦樑呢條X建聯黨員,話咁快就要在香港引進防火長城,淫審處本來己經被指權力過大,依家權力仲要大到搞過濾名單,係咪想搞香港版防火長城。照香港有大衛像都係淫褻嘅硬膠前科,隨時成個高登都會列入過濾名單,咁樣仲成世界?仲惡過廿三條。

Gregory So, party member of DAB (translator note: a pro-China political party in Hong Kong), soon after he got into power, he wants to introduce great fire wall in Hong Kong. Obscene Article Tribunal has been known to have excessive power, now they are to formulate black list for filtering. Isn't that in fact Hong Kong's great fire wall? As we have the most ridiculous record of turing the David Statue into indecent article, it is very likely that the whole golden forum would be included in the list. What will Hong Kong become? Such kind of policy is more evil that article 23.

Although the government stresses that it doesn't have any fixed position, erynnyes from Those were the days is still angry at the government's suggestions:

當然,政府把一切說成諮詢,政府沒有立場,甚至在文件中提出反對者聲音,以顯示中立,可是在童工角度,有些立場、建議,根本提出也是罪,因為這是削弱香港互聯網自由,完全毋須討論,皆因沒有任何妥協之餘地!那份諮詢文件,就像互聯網的23 條,只想打造一個超越中國的打壓互聯自由的香港金盾!

The government stresses that it is just consultation, and it doesn't have any stand. It tries to show its neutrality by mentioning some of the oppositional voices. However, from our viewpoints, some positions and suggestions shouldn't be included in the consultation, as it will erode the internet freedom. The very act of putting them into the agenda is a sin as we should not compromise human rights principle. The consultation papers is like Internet article 23 aims at constructing a Golden shield in Hong Kong, competing with what have been done in China.

Hystericireul posts a large picture of David Statue in his blog to protest against the Indecent censorship policy. He also makes a dozen points on the consultation:

10. 淫唔淫,根本就係同洩唔洩一樣,各施各法各隨心。除左少部分好明顯變態嘔心核突既物品之外,根本好多物品就無一個清晰定義去界定點為之「淫」,尤其是當你成班仆街連大衛像都可以覺得係「淫褻」既話,仲有乜野係唔淫?vv物語講西,淫唔淫?西廂記夢中交合,淫唔淫?莫非我地以後創作時就唔可以打破古人既曖昧,照樣講到扑野就「呵呵,哈哈,嗯嗯」算數?

11. 根本個問題係,健立一個健康健全既人格,咁佢睇乜都唔會變壞。而家係你班撚樣搞柒左個社會,成班小朋友未升中先西窿,3456789p玩齊,呢個係佢地腦荀未生埋既問題,我地要做既係好好教導佢地,而唔係一味禁絕囉。

10. Whether something is indecent or not, its nature is like whether a kid is naughty or not. It is very arbitrary, everyone has his/her own standard. Except a very limited amount of perverted articles, it is very difficult to draw a line for most articles. Especially the fact that some assholes dare to define the David Statue as “indecent”, what else cannot be “indecent”? Vagina Monologues is all about vagina, is that indecent? Romance of the West Chamber have a scene on sexual intercourse in the dream, is that indecent? In the future, when we write story about love making, should we follow ancient reticence by omitting the descriptive part and substitute it with “oh… er……mum….”?

11. The issue at stake is to help our children to develop a healthy personality, then whatever they read, cannot have negative impact on them. Look at how this group of dick heads rule the society, children are having 34567 P (multiple sexual partners) before they enter high school because they are not mature in their attitudes. We should teach them, not prohibit them from knowing.

There are also some discussions from Internet forums, such as from pumb.org:

User169167 criticizes the government's official ability in governing Hong Kong:

雞有病 = 唔俾賣活雞唔使煩
樹有病 = 斬晒佢唔使煩
色情網頁教壞細佬 = block晒佢唔使煩

政府班高薪厚職既天材知唔知咩叫教育?

說穿了其實就係借管制色情網頁為開端,繼而達至更容易收緊其它題材網頁(例如政治、社論),壓抑社會另類渠道反對聲音。

When Chickens are sick = ban all fresh chickens from the market and save the trouble
When trees are sick = cut them all and save the trouble
When pornography websites have negative impact on children = block them all and save the trouble

All these well-paid high ranked government officials, do they know what is education?

The hidden agenda is to start from controlling the pornography websites and then tighten the control of other websites (such as political and social critics) and repress oppositional voices.

User george2be said that the government power should stay out of the filtering mechanism:

家長同學校想filter, 應該自己裝軟件做. 政府可以提供資源同條件令呢d軟件更易買到 (如跟機可以加). 根本無需要立法賦予政府設立過濾機制既權力.

正如莫乃光講, 現在最大問題係淫審處裁決標準不一, 缺乏公信力. 連定標準既機構都亂七八糟, 在未解決呢個問題前, 點可能立法比佢權力去過濾更多既言論同資訊.

倒行逆施莫過於此.

The parent and schools, if they want to have filter, they should have their own filtering software. The government can provide informations and resources for them to buy the software. We don't need legislation to give power to the government for setting up filtering mechanism.

Like what Charles Mok has said, now the problem is about the double standard in the OAT judgment. They have lost their credibility in the public. If they don't have a clear standard, how can we give the power to the government in filtering information?

This is such a regression in local governance.

User P-U-M-B pointed out that the internet would eventually become intranet under such policy direction:

咁搞法 !! internet 變左intranet

Kay sets up a facebook group on defending internet freedom to follow through the consultation.

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