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Hong Kong court’s decision to ban some Telegram content slammed by legislators and digital rights activists

Legislators and digital rights activists fear the decision marks the first steps of an internet shutdown.
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Digital rights activists and legislators are warning that a Hong Kong court’s decision to ban what they deem to be the posting and spreading of online messages inciting violence is the first step towards internet censorship in the country.

Earlier today, the High Court in Hong Kong granted an interim injunction to temporarily restrain anyone from “disseminating, sharing, or resharing” any information or material that “promotes, encourages or incites” violence against any person or unlawful damage against other persons or property. The injunction specifically listed Telegram and LIHKG, a popular Hong kong forum, as examples of platforms to which the injunction would apply. The injunction will stay in place until at least November 15.

Hong Kong’s IT legislator Charles Mok slammed the decision and warned that it paves the path for further internet censorship:

“The temporary injunction sets an extremely dangerous precedent for introducing internet censorship of online speech similar to the Great Firewall of China. It is a serious breach of citizens’ freedom of expression and Hong Kong’s supposed free flow of information.”

Mok added that there are already laws in place against unlawful inciting behavior and questioned why these laws are being bypassed to introduce a partial internet ban.

Digital rights group Access Now also described it as “an alarming first step towards a full or partial internet shutdown.”

The granting of the injunction comes days after the Hong Kong police asked Facebook to delete what they deem to be defamatory accusations about the force’s handling of pro-liberty protestors. However, Facebook rejected these calls to censor and ignored the requests.

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