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Hong Konger gets over six years in jail for Telegram protest channel

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A Hong Kong man was sentenced to over six years in jail on Thursday for running a channel on the messaging app Telegram at the height of the city’s democracy protests.

Telegram played a key role in Hong Kong’s massive and sometimes violent democracy rallies in 2019, with public channels used to coordinate demonstrations and report on-the-ground developments.

On Thursday a judge gave 26-year-old computer technician Ng Man-ho six and a half years in jail, one of the longest sentences yet for running a protest channel.

Ng was found guilty of “inciting” offences such as arson, assault, criminal damage and rioting by administering the channel.

Deputy District Judge Peter Hui earlier said Ng must have known about the unlawful communications and was therefore in part responsible, regardless of whether Ng sent any messages himself.

Hong Kong’s democracy movement has been wiped out by a broad crackdown on dissent that has included increased police action against apps and websites.

One area now being focused on by authorities is doxxing — the non-consensual disclosure of others’ personal data.

Hong Kong criminalised doxxing last October and authorities said this week that they received 842 reports of doxxing cases last year.

Using newly granted legal powers, Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog has issued demands to 13 online platforms to take down a total of more than 3,500 doxxing messages, with a compliance rate of around 80 percent.

Privacy watchdog chief Ada Chung told lawmakers she would consider a “blacklist” for platforms that repeatedly fail to comply with takedown orders.

Authorities are mulling a ban on Telegram as the app is often used for doxxing, local media has reported, citing anonymous sources.

In a statement, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said it will take appropriate enforcement action “depending on the scale and intensity” of doxxing messages.

While mainland China’s censors ban many Western messaging apps, Hong Kong maintains freer access to the internet and technology.

Both sides of the political divide in Hong Kong have been criticised for using doxxing as a tactic to attack opponents.

Democracy protesters have been arrested over the doxxing of police officers, while Beijing supporters have doxxed demonstrators and journalists.

Despite recent law enforcement, a website called “HK Leaks” — known for posting personal details of at least 2,000 protesters and government critics — remains online.

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