Speeches and Presentations



LCQ10: Request Internet service providers for disclosure or removal of users' information

Following is a question by Hon Charles Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Legislative Council meeting today (February 6):

Question:

According to the Transparency Report published biannually by Google, an Internet search-engine service provider, the Government had made 192 requests to the company for disclosure of its users' information in the first half of 2012, but about two-thirds of such requests were not acceded to by the company. The Report has also pointed out that the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) had requested the company to remove from YouTube, its subsidiary video web site, 370 videos which were suspected of infringing copyright. However, as the information provided by C&ED was incomplete, the request was not acceded to by the company. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the names of the government departments which had made requests to Google for disclosure of its users' information in the past three years, and the types of requests and the number for each type, the reasons for making such requests, whether the requests were made under court orders, the details of the users' information requested for disclosure, whether the requests were acceded to and the reasons given by Google for not acceding to the requests, in the past three years;

(b) whether it had made similar requests to other Internet service providers (ISPs) in the past three years; if it had, of the names of the ISPs concerned and whether they were local or non-local companies, and the same types of information in (a) above;

(c) of the number of requests made in the past three years by the authorities to various types of ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites for removal of their users' information; the names of the ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites concerned, the names of the government departments which had made such requests, and the types of users' information requested by various departments for removal and the number for each type, the reasons for making such requests, whether the requests were made under court orders, the details of the users' information requested for removal, whether the requests were acceded to by the companies concerned and the reasons given by the companies for not acceding to the requests;

(d) whether the authorities have reviewed the reasons why all the videos which C&ED requested YouTube to remove were not removed; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(e) whether the authorities have put in place a central mechanism or procedure to co-ordinate or regulate the requests made by various government departments and law enforcement agencies to various types of ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites for disclosure or removal of their users' information; if they have, of the details; if not, whether they will put in place such standardised central mechanism or procedure, and require all departments to follow?

Reply:

President,

Regarding the five-part question, the Administration's reply is as follows:

(a) and (b) The names of the government departments which had made requests to Internet service providers (ISPs), including Google, for disclosure of their users' information in the past three years and the relevant information are consolidated at Annex I.

(c) The names of the government departments which had made requests to various ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites for removal of their users' information in the past three years and the relevant information are set out in Annex II.

(d) In April 2012, the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) received complaints from the Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA), copyright owners and the public that a Hong Kong movie being shown in cinemas had been uploaded to YouTube. People could see the whole movie for free. MPIA also complained to C&ED that there were other infringing movies on YouTube and requested C&ED to assist and investigate.

Upon investigation, C&ED confirmed that 370 infringing video clippings, involving 189 movies, could be viewed on YouTube free of charge. To minimise the loss that might be caused to the copyright owners, C&ED requested YouTube to remove the related infringing videos based on the information provided by the copyright owners. YouTube responded that they could not accede to the request as further information and confirmation from copyright owners would be required. C&ED thus advised the copyright owners to furnish the required information to YouTube direct. The copyright owners subsequently revealed to C&ED that YouTube had deleted some of the infringing videos after obtaining the relevant information.

(e) In carrying out their duties, the officers of individual government departments and law enforcement agencies may request for information or co-operation from the relevant persons or organisations (including ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites) as and when necessary in accordance with the relevant laws and established procedures or guidelines. The Government does not have a central mechanism or procedure to co-ordinate or regulate the requests made by government departments and law enforcement agencies to various types of ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites for disclosure or removal of their users’ information. Since the existing mechanism functions effectively, we do not think it is necessary to establish a separate central mechanism or procedure for ISPs/Internet platforms/web sites.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Annex I PDF

Annex II PDF