HK protest-related site says users' access blocked

Users attempting to access HKChronicles on their mobile devices first noticed the disruption Jan 6 evening.
Users attempting to access HKChronicles on their mobile devices first noticed the disruption Jan 6 evening.PHOTO: HKCHRONICLES.COM

HONG KONG • A Hong Kong website that publishes material mainly related to anti-government protests in 2019 said its users' access had been blocked by the city's Internet service providers (ISPs).

The website, HKChronicles, said it began receiving reports from Hong Kong-based users saying they could no longer access the site from last Wednesday evening.

"After discussing and investigating with our supporters, we found that some ISPs of Hong Kong have deliberately dropped any connection to our servers, so that the user could not receive replies from our servers, resulting in an inability to access our content," chief editor Naomi Chan said in a statement.

The South China Morning Post, citing unnamed sources, said yesterday that Hong Kong police had invoked the city's national security law for the first time to block HKChronicles, and that the police had started asking ISPs to halt access, citing Article 43 of the law.

The police said they cannot comment on individual cases. The city's government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the legislation imposed on Hong Kong last June, the police can request service providers to restrict access to electronic platforms or messages that could pose a threat to national security.

HKChronicles said that based on users' reports, the ISPs suspected of being involved in the blocking comprised SmarTone, China Mobile Hong Kong, PCCW and others. It did not elaborate. China Mobile, SmarTone, and PCCW did not respond to requests for comment.

The security law punishes what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail.

The Hong Kong and Beijing governments say it is vital to plug holes in national security defences exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the global financial hub in 2019.

The Hong Kong police arrested 53 people in dawn raids on democracy activists last Wednesday, in the biggest crackdown since China imposed the security law.

"I think right now many users are being affected, but few websites are being affected. It seems like it's a technology test, to test the influence of blocking websites to the entire Hong Kong network," said Ms Chan.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2021, with the headline 'HK protest-related site says users' access blocked'. Print Edition | Subscribe