This week, Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) and Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan Hong Kong Business Integrity and Transparency Act to establish regular reporting on instances where Hong Kong authorities demand data, content takedowns, or assistance with law enforcement from U.S. companies.
Hong Kong after the 2020 National Security Law is no longer the global business city it once was. We have already seen authorities increasing demands from U.S. businesses to comply with data disclosure laws that mirror the laws of the mainland, said Curtis. The Hong Kong Business Integrity and Transparency Act will establish transparency on what information the government of Hong Kong is requesting so that we can protect not only businesses but also protect Hong Kongers.
Hong Kong’s turn to authoritarianism not only threatens our allies and partners in the region who share America’s commitment to a free and open Asia-Pacific, but also U.S. companies and citizens who reside in that territory, said Rep. Peters. Congress has a duty to protect the rights of U.S. companies and citizens located abroad. This bill would help Congress better understand how recent events in Hong Kong impact U.S. citizens who live there and take appropriate action. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this bill.
The sweeping National Security Law enacted by Beijing two years ago, which dismantled the freedoms that once made Hong Kong unique, has tarnished the city’s reputation as a global financial hub. Local and transnational corporations alike now face constant pressure to facilitate China’s political crackdown there in myriad ways. This bill reflects that reality and sends a clear message: Business is not as usual. By improving federal oversight, it seeks to protect consumers and potentially expose American companies complicit in human-rights abuses abroad. Congressman Curtis — in addition to being a long champion of pathways to immigration for Hong Kongers in need — deserves our community’s admiration for his leadership on the new, bipartisan issue at hand.
— Brian Leung, Executive Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council
Hong Kong’s National Security Law implemented in 2020 specifically requires telecommunications and related technology companies to assist law enforcement with requests for data and takedowns of content that violates the National Security Law, similar to other laws in mainland China.
Chinese government efforts to retaliate against foreign criticism and sanctions will force foreign companies into a difficult compromise between different legal systems. U.S. companies are navigating changes in Hong Kong just like many other foreign firms are, but U.S. technology companies—particularly social media platforms— will be especially vulnerable as the Hong Kong government’s security apparatus grows even more stringent.
This bill would establish semi-annual reporting from the Department of Commerce on instances of demands for user data, assistance with law enforcement, and content takedowns.