A Hong Kong website gets blocked, which would signal an end of Hong Kong’s ‘open Internet’

A Hong Kong website gets blocked, which would signal an end of Hong Kong’s ‘open Internet.’

Police blocked a Hong Kong website, The HKChronicles,  that publishes material mainly related on anti-government protests in 2019. The website has warned its users to prepare for large-scale internet blocks, filters, and censorship in the future.

Sources said the force had started asking internet service providers (ISPs) to halt access to the HKChronicles website citing Article 43 of the law and its implementation rules. Officers can order ISPs to block access to electronic information deemed likely to constitute a crime endangering national security.

The Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA) issued a statement on Thursday expressing opposition to reports of a possible blocking of selected internet services in response to recent unrest. The organisation warned that any such measures could cripple the local economy and urged the government to consult the community before imposing any restrictions.

Users attempting to access the site, called HKChronicles, on their mobile devices first noticed the disruption on Wednesday evening, according to the site’s owner, Naomi Chan, an 18-year-old high school student. The disruption came without any warning or explanation, she said.

China Mobile Hong Kong, an arm of China Mobile, the Chinese state-run company, declined to comment. Two others, SmarTone and Hutchison Telecommunications, which are controlled by local conglomerates, did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Users of PCCW, another locally owned carrier, told The Times their access to the site was blocked, too. A spokesman declined to comment.

The police in Hong Kong declined to comment on the disruption but insisted they had the power under the new national security law to block access to information online. In a statement, the police said they “can require service providers to take restrictive actions against messages posted on digital platforms, which likely constitute the offence of endangering national security or incite a national security offence.”

The Hong Kong blockages are “really easy to circumvent and clumsy,” said Mr. Tsui, the professor. Still, he said, the authorities may not want to control the internet as tightly as Beijing for fear of scaring off the global banks and international companies that have made the city their Asian headquarters.