Cops, families under online attack after data leaked

Top News | Staff Reporter 23 Aug 2019

The identities and personal details of more than 1,600 policemen and their families have been revealed online, with some harassed and bullied as a result, police said.

The online action to reveal police details has been taken since the anti-fugitive bill protests began in June as a counter-attack by web users against alleged police brutality.

Superintendent Swalikh Mohammed of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau said a total of 1,614 officers and their family members suffered from the release of their information.

Details ranged from officers' names, ID number, addresses, to photos of their children and their schools.

"These colleagues and their families suffer from different degrees of harassment and intimidation, for example sending messages to their phones, using their information to borrow money, shopping online, harassing their families at their work places. They even received letters that the whole families would be killed by brutal means," Mohammed said.

Mohammed read out examples of online comments on how some web users would deal with police such as using a small knife to stab an officer as it would be more painful than using a large sword to chop him.

He also showed tutorial videos posted online of how gasoline bombs are made. "One said: 'What if people know their parents are police when school starts?' " he said.

Such extremist speeches and behavior, especially those targeting children "have far exceeded what can be accepted in a civilized society, and are spreading seeds of hatred," Mohammed said.

Chief superintendent John Tse Chun-chung of the Police Public Relations Branch said the force does not know which side of society did the information expose and incited the attacks.

Police also have no information on the breakdown of which camp was responsible for how many cases. "It isn't necessarily done by protesters, and we are talking about whether it's legal."

Mohammed said he had to let the public know what was actually being said online.

Senior superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of the Police Public Relations Branch tried to explain what happened after a New York Times video appeared to show police firing tear gas rounds from a high floor of the government headquarters in Tamar on August 5.

"We watched the video, and we believed it's due to the angle of taking the video, as our colleagues should be firing tear gas rounds to the sky at a very high angle before the cannister falls to the ground," Kong said.

Mohammed said some photos claimed that the police chased and beat some citizens in New Town Plaza on July 14, and he showed videos showing that officers were instead protecting mall goers.

Another video allegedly showed a policeman kicking an arrested protester's face when the officer was actually removing the mask of the protester, Mohammed said.

A web user, Tam Ka-cheung, whose ID number was recorded by police on June 9, claimed on the internet that he went to Beijing on Wednesday only to be detained by police for 10 hours and repatriated.

He asked if Hong Kong police passed his information to the mainland.

Kong denied the allegation, saying Hong Kong police operations are independent from China.

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