Google provided some user data to the Hong Kong government in response to three requests made between July and December last year, making it the first US tech giant to reveal that it complied with local authorities’ requests for user data after the national security law was enacted last June. .
Along with other tech and social media giants last year, the company announced that it would stop responding to any request for user information from city authorities, unless it was submitted through the US Department of Justice.
The latest disclosure indicates a reversal in the company’s position last year, according to for the site Hong Kong Free Press.
The company said it provided some data in response to three of the 43 requests it received from Hong Kong authorities for user information during the second half of last year.
The company explained that one of the requests it complied with was an emergency disclosure request involving a real threat to life. Meanwhile, Facebook denied an emergency request last year.
Google complied with the two remaining requests, which said the requests had nothing to do with national security and were backed by search warrants signed by a judge as part of the investigation.
It added that it was processed in accordance with the company’s global policy on government requests for user information.
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Google handed over user data to Hong Kong authorities
The company said that none of the responses included users’ content data. Its policy on responding to government requests is that it may provide other metadata. Such as subscriber information including name and email. and associated phone numbers. IP addresses, billing information, and timestamps.
This means that the search giant has resumed complying with at least some user data requests from the local government. That’s after it said last year that it would not respond to any of them unless they were concluded through a mutual legal assistance treaty with the US Department of Justice.
The move came in response to the new national security law in Hong Kong imposed by China. Which included a possible life sentence for people found guilty of subversion.
China has used subversion charges to detain political protesters and dissidents. Facebook and Twitter have also stopped processing data requests from the Hong Kong government in response to the security law.
Google said the three Hong Kong requests it complied with were not made under the treaty. It added that emergency requests involving threats to life were not required by the treaty, as per its global policy.
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