The Hong Kong government has issued a consultation paper on the “Review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance” last Friday (Oct 3). The first round of consultation will be lasted until end of January.
A most controversial issue is the suggestion on introduction of an internet filtering system in Hong Kong. In part 4 of the consultation paper, it states that the main issue at stake is:
Given the emergence of new forms of media, particularly the growing popularity of the Internet, members of the public consider it important that measures are taken to protect youngsters from the dissemination of obscene and indecent materials on such new media systems.
The government layouts a number of options:
Option one: co-regulation approach that demands Internet Service Providers to:
1. tighten up their service contracts with subscribers by incorporating specific clauses which prohibit subscribers from publishing obscene or indecent articles;
2. formulate measures against repeated offenders, which may involve limiting the bandwidth made available to such offenders or imposing temporary suspension or termination of service in case of contravention of contractual terms;
3. implement a voluntary labelling system and encourage webmasters to label their websites to indicate whether they are suitable for children and youngsters;
4. provide filtering services to subscribers for the purpose of filtering out web content which is not suitable for children and youngsters.
Option two is mandatory approach via legislation:
to make it mandatory for ISPs to provide filtering service to their subscribers so that
children and youngsters will be protected from web content not suitable to them. This would enable filtering of content from both local and overseas websites.
Option three is statutory approach, which targets at content providers:
1. websites are required to provide warnings if they display indecent materials;
2. an access control system is to be established to authenticate the age of the web users. For example, web users are required to input their credit card data before getting access to webpage containing indecent materials to ensure that they have attained the age of 18;
3. empower enforcement agencies, upon receipt of a judicial warrant, to issue a “take-down notice” to the indecent websites or the ISPs concerned; and
4. prosecute content providers who fail to comply with the statutory requirements.
Martinoei criticizes that all the suggestions imply an introduction of Great Fire Wall in Hong Kong:
Although the government stresses that it doesn't have any fixed position, erynnyes from Those were the days is still angry at the government's suggestions:
Hystericireul posts a large picture of David Statue in his blog to protest against the Indecent censorship policy. He also makes a dozen points on the consultation:
11. The issue at stake is to help our children to develop a healthy personality, then whatever they read, cannot have negative impact on them. Look at how this group of dick heads rule the society, children are having 34567 P (multiple sexual partners) before they enter high school because they are not mature in their attitudes. We should teach them, not prohibit them from knowing.
There are also some discussions from Internet forums, such as from pumb.org:
User169167 criticizes the government's official ability in governing Hong Kong:
雞有病 = 唔俾賣活雞唔使煩
樹有病 = 斬晒佢唔使煩
色情網頁教壞細佬 = block晒佢唔使煩
When trees are sick = cut them all and save the trouble
When pornography websites have negative impact on children = block them all and save the trouble
All these well-paid high ranked government officials, do they know what is education?
The hidden agenda is to start from controlling the pornography websites and then tighten the control of other websites (such as political and social critics) and repress oppositional voices.
User george2be said that the government power should stay out of the filtering mechanism:
家長同學校想filter, 應該自己裝軟件做. 政府可以提供資源同條件令呢d軟件更易買到 (如跟機可以加). 根本無需要立法賦予政府設立過濾機制既權力.
正如莫乃光講, 現在最大問題係淫審處裁決標準不一, 缺乏公信力. 連定標準既機構都亂七八糟, 在未解決呢個問題前, 點可能立法比佢權力去過濾更多既言論同資訊.
Like what Charles Mok has said, now the problem is about the double standard in the OAT judgment. They have lost their credibility in the public. If they don't have a clear standard, how can we give the power to the government in filtering information?
This is such a regression in local governance.
User P-U-M-B pointed out that the internet would eventually become intranet under such policy direction:
咁搞法 !! internet 變左intranet
Kay sets up a facebook group on defending internet freedom to follow through the consultation.