Breaking the law is breaking the law — whether it happens in a real world or a virtual one, Hong Kong police stressed on Thursday.
Starting from June, private information — including names, phone numbers, and home addresses — of as many as 1,614 police officers and their families has been leaked online without their consent, said Swalikh Mohammed, superintendent of the cybersecurity and technology crime bureau, when addressing a daily news conference.
It is unacceptable for such things to happen in any civilized society, especially with multiple cases involving the children of police officers, who face growing psychological pressure, he added.
Hong Kong has always been a city that respects freedom of speech, which means it is also difficult for police to decide which actions and comments are breaking the law.
Under SAR law, anyone who discloses, irrespective of intent, personal data without the user’s consent and causes psychological harm to this person could face a fine of HK$1 million ($128,000) or imprisonment for five years.
Just because someone commits unlawful acts behind a computer screen does not mean they will not be brought to justice, Mohammed said.
Police are concerned that incendiary comments circulating online could eventually evolve into unlawful acts and even violence, Mohammed said. This is why it is necessary for officers to dispel online rumors — because the public can easily be influenced by provocative yet mostly false comments on the internet, he said.
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