The Battle for Hong Kong’s Cyberspace

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A recent paper by Lokman Tsui, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong offers a chilling look at how authorities in Hong Kong outdid their rivals during the 79-day Occupy Central movement that hit the city in late 2014.

The Occupy movement braved police violence as well as political pressure and intimidation on and offline from Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities before being driven out by police. Technology played an important role in the movement’s organization and coordination, becoming “a critical channel for communication with the public,” according to Tsui. He described this as “a fairly typical script” for how technology aids social movements.

In response, the government not only defended itself but, as Tsui states, went on the offensive. His paper describes the various tactics deployed by the government and its allies to dissuade and diminish the Occupy movement.

Abusing outdated online surveillance laws
The current surveillance regulation ordinance only refers to telephone, fax and postal mail, and makes no mention of Internet communications. By repeatedly refusing to confirm whether its protections extend online, the government is implying that there are none.

Twisting an online fraud protection law to arrest activists
“One of the more problematic arrests made under [Crimes Ordinance] Section 161 includes charging a 23-year-old from Mongkok with ‘access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent’ and ‘unlawful assembly’ for allegedly messaging folks on an online discussion forum to join him in a protest in Mongkok.”

De facto online censorship using content removal requests
“The number of requests for content removal in the four months of October 2014 until February 2015 exceeds the number of requests made in the previous four years combined.”

DDoS attacks on an unprecedented scale
“The pro-government side was able to hit a series of critical websites with an unprecedented amount of junk traffic (500 Gigabytes per second), including the website of the Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, and PopVote, Hong Kong University’s online voting platform, leading Matthew Prince, the CEO of a hosting company that specializes in DDoS protection, to call it the ‘largest cyber attack in history.’”

Paid “50 cent” Internet commenters
Pro-government comments flooded online forums, blogs and social media networks similar to the paid online commentators working for the government elsewhere. It is generally believed that the pro-government commentators are hired by political groups sponsored by the Hong Kong government and Beijing.

Painting technology-related activities as a US conspiracy
In the case of Hong Kong, the government was “pushing a narrative of ‘foreign interference’, a xenophobic narrative that accuses civil society organizations of being inauthentic, that they are being used and funded by foreign governments, especially the United States government, who seek to undermine and weaken China by fomenting revolution in the name of ‘democracy.’”

Tsui ends the paper on a sobering note:
The Internet still has the potential to empower social movements; they might even allow temporary gaps of freedom. But the [Occupy Hong Kong] movement suggests that both the Internet and Hong Kong are at a crossroads, that both cannot take its freedoms for granted. This is not to say that spaces of autonomy and freedom no longer exist online or in Hong Kong; however, they are increasingly being marginalized and, at this point in time, are best understood as the exceptions rather than the norm.

Tsui’s paper, titled The Coming Colonization of Hong Kong Cyberspace: Government Responses to the Use of New Technologies by the Umbrella Movement, was published in the Chinese Journal of Communication in July 2015. Read the full paper on Tsui’s blog.

Originally published on Global Voices, some edits made  cc-by-icons-300

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Party Girl (2014)

Party Girl (2014)

Party Girl (2014)
Directors: Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, Samuel Theis
Cast: Angélique Litzenburger, Joseph Bour, Mario Theis, Samuel Theis
Tickets: $65 from HK Ticketing
More info: France 2014 95min

Not the chick flic the title suggests, but a truly moving real-life exploration of a 60ish working class French cabaret woman in northeast France who decides to settle down with a miner client. This is not the hardscrabble fictional world of the Dardennes either: director Samuel Theis, working with two friends from film school, instead scrutinizes the events of his own life, bringing his mother, Angélique Litzenburger, and his family, providing reflections and insights for family and audience alike. Camera d’Or Winner, Cannes Film Festival.

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Statement from Kids’ Dream, a Child Rights Group about Chalk Girl’s Detention

kidsdream.org.hk

31st December 2014

Hong Kong has been going through a challenging time since the launching of the ‘Umbrella Movement’. Different stakeholders seize the chance to express their views in different forms, children no exceptional. A 14-year-old child drew flowers on the ‘Lennon Wall Hong Kong’, but her freedom of expression is not being respected.

We question the procedures of police handling the child. As children, we thought that detaining a child for 17 hours, as reported by the media, is way too much for a 14-year-old child. According to article 37b of the UNCRC, effective in Hong Kong since 1994 states, “The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.” We also request an explanation from the law enforcers for their disproportional force applied to the child during arrest.

Secondly, we seek to reinforce the importance of upholding ‘the best interest of the child’ principle in any legal case involving children. The magistrate decision to send the child to ‘children’s home’ for more than half a month, which would separate her from her parent and schooling. We hope this decision is made based on the principle of ‘best interest of the child’ in the full knowledge of all circumstances. ‘Best interest of the child’, according to the UN guidelines, should consider aspects in the following checklist:

(a) the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
(b) his/her physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c) the likely effect on him/her of any change in his/her circumstances;
(d) his/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his/her which the court considers relevant;
(e) any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
(f) how capable each of his/her parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his/her needs;
(g) the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

In a child’s perspective, we are aware of that the separation of her and her parent might not meet the standard of point (b), (c). Besides, we are also concerned about whether the child is fully informed of her rights in the court and given the chance to express her opinions. We hope that the authorities concerned will explain to the public the rationale of the handling procedures of this case.

Thirdly, the UNCRC entitles children’s freedom of expression. ‘The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice’, Article 13 clearly states. We urge the government to ensure that there are sufficient and effective channels for children to express their views.

Moreover, after this issue, children may be discouraged to exercise their freedom of expression. In children’s perspective, we are afraid that we would face similar consequences the girl faces. Therefore, we wish to highlight that children’s right to expression should not be deprived of for any political reasons.

Children have the rights to participate in socio-political activities and express themselves in a comfortable way. They deserve effective channels to speak up for themselves. We hope stakeholders of society, including law enforcers, justice authorities, and the community will safeguard children’s rights to expression hand in hand.

KIDS’ DREAM

Kids’ Dream is the first child-led organization established in 2006 with members mainly aged below 18. We aim at promoting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and children’s rights. We advocate “Children speaking for Children” across issues related to 1.1 million children aged under 18 in HK. www.kidsdream.org.hk/

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Umbrella Movement – New Year’s Eve

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Multiple Lennon walls, carol singing, Banayaooyoo, chalking, a new garden and free hugs
Click on a photo to see more images

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http://bcmagazine.smugmug.com/Bcene-photos/2014/New-Years-Eve-2014-15/46667060_BrWqr6#!i=3794930731&k=hRFNH5p

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Chalk Girl Released on Bail

Chalk Girl

The ‘Chalk Girl’ story is front and centre in the international media with stories filed by Time, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the New York Times – giving the Police, the ‘independent’ courts and the government another massive black eye and more loss of face (not that they had any left). The attention probably has something to do with why she’s now suddenly being released on bail.

http://blogs.wsj.com/…/hong-kong-police-try-to-take-14-yea…/
http://time.com/…/hong-kong-teen-protesters-chalk-girl-cha…/
http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/…/hong-kong-police-cri…/

Chalk

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HKU & Kennedy Town MTR Stations

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Quite how, during busy periods, the MTR will get 689 mainland tourists just off a Macau Ferry and their 689 pieces of heavy wheelie luggage onto a train inside a ‘normal stop’ is anybody’s guess… However as of 6am on the 28 December after passing through HKU, the MTR’s Island Line ends in Kennedy Town instead of Sheung Wan. The two new stations, located 80m and 60m underground respectively, are efficient and well connected to to bus stops and minibus terminuses.

Kennedy Town MTR Station

There’s big shiny wall murals at each station – with HKU having an interested potted history of the the University on the long corridor to exits A1 & A2. It’s an interesting 50m plus panel with some nice photos, but people reading the mural block half the space creating an irritating logjam even during the afternoon.

HKU MTR Station

The Good:
Public toilets: the MTR have finally recognised that it’s customers might need a toilet, and there are public facilities inside each station.
Wifi hotspots: at each entry concourse, the MTR’s free wifi hotspots allows 5x 15 minute logins per day – registration free.
New Ticket machines: which among other things allow for checking of your Octopus transaction history and, for $3, a transaction print out.

The Bad:
Exit A at HKU station. This lift only exit is split into two parts A1 and A2 – each is bank of four elevators using a new lift tower. A1 opens at the top to offer exits at HK University and A2 which opens at the bottom onto Pokfulam Road. The lifts are double sided, with the unsigned exit side opening before the entry side. This makes for very slow lift fills – in the middle of the afternoon there was a queue. It’ll be messy in rush hour and a nightmare when raining.
Click on the photos to see more internal and external images

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Umbrella Movement – Christmas Eve

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9wu, carol singing, Banayaooyoo @ Dark Corner
Click on a photo to see more images

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