A Hong Kong telecoms worker has become the first person found guilty of doxxing during last year’s anti-government protest movement.
District Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che on Friday concluded that Chan King-hei, 33, saved the personal data of 29 individuals and recorded 63 addresses without the permission of his then-employer, Hong Kong Telecommunications, and shared information related to a police inspector’s father in an online doxxing group.
The four actions for which he was convicted spanned July 24 to September 9.
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“This is a serious case,” the judge said while remanding Chan. “By using his company’s computer system to make searches, whether he was too bored or … personally thought some people had done wrong and hoped that others would not have any dealings with these people, subjectively or objectively, the defendant was not carrying out his duties.”
“He did not have any authorisation and he breached the trust of his employer,” the judge added.
The District Court heard the affected individuals included three public figures, 20 police officers and six of their family members.
The inspector’s father later complained of psychological distress, including feeling helpless and fragile, and worrying about the safety of himself and his family members as a result of the doxxing.
Chan was found guilty of three counts of obtaining access to a computer with a view to dishonest gain for himself or another, and one count of disclosing personal data obtained without consent. Both offences are punishable by five years in prison.
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He was the first person found guilty of doxxing since the beginning of the anti-government protests, which were sparked by a since-withdrawn extradition bill, but expanded to include broader issues such as police accountability and universal suffrage.
Acting senior public prosecutor Human Lam Hiu-man previously told the court that more than 2,000 police officers and 1,000 family members had been doxxed, cyberbullied and harassed since June of 2019.
Police later applied for anonymity orders to conceal the identity of officers involved in protest-related prosecutions and secured a High Court injunction last October to ban doxxing activities.
In June, a designer became the first person held civilly liable for breaching the injunction, after she admitted to posting the personal information of a police officer and his family on her Facebook page on November 5, 2019. She was given a suspended sentence for civil contempt of court.
The present case relates to a doxxing group that sprang up amid the protests known as “Dadfindboy”. The Telegram-based channel published personal information on police officers and their families submitted by subscribers to the administrator account @tanakayotsuba.
Upon arrest, Chan admitted to impulsively sharing some of the information, specifically details relating to an inspector’s father, because he wanted to correct inaccurate personal data that had been shared online in the social media doxxing group.
At trial, he tried to strike those statements from the evidence, but failed to convince the court he had been forced to surrender the password to his phone or intimidated into making involuntary admissions without the presence of his lawyers.
But he was cleared of the final count of loitering near Hung Hom Police Station, as the court could not be sure that his conduct had caused the complaining officer to be reasonably concerned for her well-being and safety.
Chan, who had no prior convictions, left Hong Kong Telecommunications on September 25, 2019, three days after his arrest.
He will be sentenced on November 3, pending his background report.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong telecoms worker accused of using company computer to track down, publish personal data of police officer’s father
- Hong Kong protests: construction worker found guilty of rioting during siege of police headquarters