Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said that the government was working on a “fake news” law to fight “misinformation, hatred and lies.” The announcement is more proof of Beijing reigning in on the autonomous city and puts freedom of the press in jeopardy.
Since Beijing enacted the national security law in Hong Kong, most of the freedoms once enjoyed in the global financial hub, such as freedom of expression, have gradually disappeared. Now, it seems Beijing is focused on the freedom of the press. It started by imposing an inexperienced bureaucrat as the head of the public broadcaster RTHK, which has been followed by an announcement about a “fake news” legislation.
The announcement of the legislation was made by Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, during her weekly press briefings on Tuesday. She added that there’s no timeline for the legislation as it needs “a lot of research.”
“The fake news law needs a lot of research, especially (on) how overseas governments are tackling this increasingly worrying trend of spreading inaccurate information, misinformation, hatred and lies on the social media,” Lam said. “We will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is doing to many people.”
The announcement came barely a day after RTHK said it would not renew the contract of journalist Nabela Qoser, who became popular for questioning Lam and other officials about the anti-government protests in 2019.
The public broadcaster has also started removing some of its archives from social media channels, forcing activists to back up some of the content on anti-censorship blockchain platforms.
Lam’s announcement puts the freedom of the press in further jeopardy. Currently, Reporters Without Borders ranks press freedom in Hong Kong at position 80 out of 180.