Google refused govt request to delete police brutality videos

Hong Kong police asked Google to delete online footage of suspected police brutality during last year’s democracy protests but were refused.

Apple Daily is citing Google’s semi-annual transparency report in which the company said the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau requested the removal of the videos for allegedly spreading misleading messages.

The report covers July to December 2014.

The revelation sparked fresh public criticism that the government has been trying to suppress freedom of speech on the internet.

A proposed national security law has been shelved after mass protests.

Google did not identify the specific footage but said it involves officers who were caught on camera beating a suspect in a police car.

Also, Google said it received requests from three government agencies to delete online content.

It complied with court orders to take down at least 10 websites.

Ng Chung-tat, convenor of Civil Human Rights Front’s police power monitoring group, said the police have infringed freedom of speech by such requests.

The police should have issued an explanation and left the matter to the public to decide.

It was not the first time the Hong Kong government had asked online service providers to delete content.

In 2013, Charles Mok, who represents the information technology sector, revealed that eight government departments made 7,003 such requests between February 2010 and February 2013.

He said none of the requests was covered by a court order.

Among these, 45 were made by the police, all successful, Mok said.

He said Google is big enough to ignore the government’s requests but smaller operators cannot afford the cost of potential lawsuits.

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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