Hong Kong: Guilty for Hyperlink and for Sex Talk

The Hong Kong government is encouraging family to have three babies, at the same time, it is so keen on censoring away information concerning sex. Of course sex is not all about giving birth, but how can we have babies without sex? Guess the government will advocate test tube babies pretty soon.

The latest sex censorship is a case against posting a hyperlink to pronographical photos in the adult section of a BBS forum. The court found the defendant guilty under COIAO (Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance) and sentenced to $5000 fine.

Charles Mok is very worried about the the case:

I think it is uncalled for for law enforecement to bring the case to court. Apparently someone made a complaint to TELA. But they are probably definitely many more serious (worse) pictures being posted on forums, and why did the Police only prosecute this case? The fact that the law enforcement in Hong Kong seldom likes to use education first, but always want to test the limit of the court by bringing nitty gritty cases to test, this practice worries me a lot and I think it is unfair to the users because they are not warned ahead of the dangers (you can't just say, “you are posting dirty pictures so you deserve it”), and to the providers it is troublesome too. I clearly remember years ago as the Chairman of the ISP Association, TELA told me that they can't do anything about those hyperlinks even if the content behind them are child porn. When did that change!?

If hyperlinks are articles that can constitute as “articles” in COIAO, will it be a precedent case that others can prosecute people posting hyperlink for many other “crimes” in civil or criminal courts for all kinds of things, even subversion or libel? It is not right I think to judge hyperlink this way, because the link points to some place not controlled by this user making use of the hyperlink, and the content behind the hyperlink can change.

This will also have dire implications to search engines or even other web hosting companies or ISPs. Does the Hong Kong government want them to carry out self-censorship from now on, on even hyperlinks? Search engine companies may be the first to get into troubles. This has serious negative consequences for Hong Kong's IT infrastructure (which includes our legal infrastructure) and the reputation of having freedom of information. Should Google and Yahoo! get out of Hong Kong?

wanszezit is very angry and says he must have broken the law as well:


When I read this report, my first reaction is “what the hell is this?!” When does Hong Kong become mainland China? And, have I broken the law before? I have posted much more “obscene” youtube links before!

Plastichk finds the situation so ridiculous:

在「成人貼圖區」發佈成人照片,由發佈到觀看的,雙方都是成年人,…為何同一張相片,貼在美國的討論區則合法,放 server 在香港則否?但同樣觀看的人身卻在香港),對香港警方來說,這樣的行為又如何影響香港治安了?警力過盛嗎?…

In an “Adult photo sharing BBS” for posting photos, supposingly all are adults… why for a same photo, when you post in a U.S BBS, it is legal, in a Hong Kong server, it becomes illegal? even though viewers are all from Hong Kong?) As for the police, how can they argue that such behaviour would affect local security? do we have too many police here?…

In order to protest against this ridiculous and highly political case, I have put a nude photo (link from flickr) and a hyperlink to a sex blog at inmediahk.net to invite criminal charge from Hong Kong government. I have also invited other netizens to make it a collective legal action.

Fred Lam has echoed my call and posted all the links that he search from google under “sexy hot chick”.

如果貼超連結都有罪的話,請問為甚麼政府不起訴 Google,而起訴一個在成人貼圖區貼三級相片超連結的小網民?

If hyperlink is guilty, why doesn't the government prosecute google, but a netizen who posted a hyperlink in an adult discussion group?

This is not a single case, because a few days ago, the Chinese University Student Press is also under attack by the mainstream media because they have opened some sex columns at the student magazine.

According to an insider story (via inmediahk.net [zh]) from the Student Press, the mainstream media got some complaint letters from conservative religious groups, and within 12 hours, the story hit the headline of major mainstream Chinese newspapers. And the university administration made a statement that they would investigate the issue and consider to punish the students who are in charge of the magazine.

The obscene article is a questionaire about sex, including sex fantasy. Among the 14 sets of questions, two are about fantasy and attitude towards incest and bestiality.

The case has raised concern from local homosexual and sex rights groups. As it is not the first time conservative religion groups make use of the censorship tool to silent sex talk.

As the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority will investigate the case and decide whether the student magazine has also violated the COIAO, a signature campaign has been launched at inmediahk.net to plead for not guilty.

Meanwhile, the university disciplinary committee has issued a statement saying that the student press “has passed the acceptable moral line” and will ban the publication of the sex pages and consider punishing the editor in charge as the publication has “affected the image of the university”. Plato questions whether the school administration body has the power to intervene into the student press’ editorial policy:


I wish that the Chinese University Principal and disciplinary committee could read the questionaire by themselves and not be affected by the mainstream biased report. If the questions and answers have advocated some sort of sexual behaviour, please point it out and let the editors explain to the students. If not, the disciplinary committee should apologize to the editors. I read the questionaires and the answers, and did not find any advocacy of certain sexual behaviour. On the other hand, it reports on certain sexual fantasies, behaviours and experiences that exist among people but rarely discussed.


I have no idea what kind of administrative unit the disciplinary committee belongs to, whether it has the power to order the student press's editors not to publish content related with sex.

Amnesty International (Hong Kong) has also issued a statement to the University Administration. The organization expressed concern that the judgement of the discipinary committee will affect the freedom of speech and press in Hong Kong.

However, diumanpark criticises that the editors are not critical but follow the market logic.

但係今日做學生就已經冇晒火,識睇住個市場,或者製造市場,先至係叻仔。我哋以前做學 生,尚有幾分熱血,對於坊間以新聞包裝嘅色情,會抗拒和批評,今日世界唔同,一份學生搞嘅風月版,不單贏盡報紙做嘅,就連色情雜誌都輸埋。

Today the students are without passion, they just concerned about the market or making the market. When I were student, I were passionate and critical. I would criticise obscenity in newspapers. Today the world is very different, a student press has won over the newspapers and sex magazines.

Jim feels that the university students are just reflection of the society,


The whole world know that Hong Kong is so backward in education, there is a lack of sex education. Even for university students, their don't have enough knowledge about sex, their brains are full of rubbish from internet and sex magazine. When they have chance to publish their own magazine, they want to explore the issue, however, in the end it is the same old topics about incest and animal sex. The fault is on the university students or on the society?

I have also signed the statement against the charge of COIAO, not that I enjoy reading the sex column in student magazine, but against the unreasonable censorship practice in Hong Kong that would eventually ruin the society.


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