Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam calls doxxing a threat to society after personal details are published online

Karen Zhang

Hong Kong’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has warned that doxxing is a threat to society and must be stopped, after her personal information was again published on social media.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Lam noted the far-reaching impact of the practice of putting people’s personal information in the public domain for malicious purposes, saying it was only ever done with the intention of silencing free speech.

She suggested she had again been the victim of doxxing, but did not elaborate on what personal information had been released and on what platform.

Privacy watchdog refers 600 cases of doxxing to police

“Someone told me that it was worrying to see my personal information being exposed in online chat groups. What I’m worried about is not the disclosure of my personal information, it had been exposed earlier after all,” she wrote.

“I’m worried about the impact of doxxing on society. There is only one purpose of doxxing, it is to silence others. Victims are not only those who were doxxed, but the whole of society.”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam published a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday in response to the incident. Photo: Facebook

In July, the personal information, including mobile phone numbers and dates of birth, of a dozen government officials and pro-establishment politicians, including Lam, was briefly published in a popular online forum where anti-government protesters often exchange information.

Privacy commissioner for personal data Stephen Wong Kai-yi said in November that over the past several months, the number of doxxing and cyberbullying complaints and cases had jumped to 3,373, from dozens received annually in previous years.

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In her Facebook post, Lam also cited an appeal court ruling on the doxxing of police officers, and urged people not to let emotion cloud their judgment.

“The damage of widespread doxxing goes well beyond the victims. It seriously endangers our society as a whole. For it will instil a chilling effect on our society when many individuals or targeted groups or sectors of the public are intimidated into silence or suppressed to express their opinion openly and honestly or conduct their affairs or pursue their life in the way they wanted for fear of being victimised by doxxing,” she wrote, quoting the court’s judgment.

She further quoted: “If doxxing practices are not curtailed, the fire of distrust, fear and hatred ignited by them will soon consume the public’s confidence in the law and order of the community, leading to disintegration of our society.”

Doxxing: the powerful ‘weapon’ in the Hong Kong protests had a petty beginning

Against the background of the civil unrest sweeping the city, the number of cases of doxxing has increased rapidly, as has that of cyber bullying.

In October, the city’s High Court granted an interim injunction to help protect police from doxxing by banning the publication of officers’ personal details for harassment.

Lam said on her Facebook page last weekend that whether to continue her dialogue sessions with the public would partly depend on whether attendees speaking up in the session would be doxxed, as happened to those in her first town-hall dialogue session in September.

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