Date
14 December 2017
Surveillance chief Darryl Gordon Saw (inset) would not say whether messages on WhatsApp and other newer applications can be intercepted. There are concerns private messages by protesters have been monitored. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA
Surveillance chief Darryl Gordon Saw (inset) would not say whether messages on WhatsApp and other newer applications can be intercepted. There are concerns private messages by protesters have been monitored. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA

Govt surveillance raises concern over protest text messages

Government surveillance tactics are causing concern instant messages by protesters might have been monitored, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.

Also, there are worries private communication by the general public could be intercepted by the authorities.

The government said a draft of the revised Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance will be presented to the Legislative Council this month or next.

The proposed legislation defines which type of content can be intercepted on the grounds of public safety.

On Tuesday, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok told a Legco hearing that the government will not use the ordinance for political purposes.

Each application for interception is reviewed by the office of the Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance and is subject to approval by a judge.

In a 2013 report published Tuesday, surveillance chief Darryl Gordon Saw said the existing ordinance allows law enforcement agencies to apply for interception and monitoring of public communication on security grounds.

These agencies received approval for 1,412 applications last year, resulting in 261 arrests.

Saw refused to comment whether messages sent on WhatsApp and other newer applications can be intercepted. 

An unnamed senior police official said newer messaging apps are not covered by the ordinance because they were not widely used at the time the law was enacted.

Some legislators said it is doubtful the government has intercepted communication among protesters.

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TL/AC/RA

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