I see no point reporters privileged to conduct company registry searches: Carrie Lam

Local | 30 Mar 2021 12:37 pm

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she sees no point in having reporters privileged to conduct record searches from government databases for investigative reporting, as the government tightens public access over record searches.

The government will soon bar members of the public from accessing some personal information about executives through company registry searches.

Information including residential address and full identification numbers of directors and secretaries will no longer be provided when people conducted such searches.

The move has been criticized by journalists’ groups, slamming the government for seriously undermining press freedom, as well as the rights of minority shareholders and labor groups.

Conducting searches through the government’s public database is routinely used by journalists as part of their research for reporting.

Lam said the SAR government has already taken into account the public’s right to know and the privacy concerns.

“Overseas countries also have similar measures to prevent ‘doxxing’ or ‘weaponizing’ personal information, the government is only addressing the same problem they are also facing,” said Lam.

When asked if reporters can be exempted from the restrictions and will be able to obtain the “protected information” upon application, Lam said she sees no point reporters are privileged to do so.

Last Wednesday, an RTHK producer Bao Choy Yuk-ling faced trial for allegedly violating the Road Traffic Ordinance in seeking to obtain vehicle license plate information for a documentary that questioned the police response to the 2019 Yuen Long mob attacks.

The prosecution argued that she made false statements, as news investigations are not approved reasons for obtaining license plate data.

Choy pleaded not guilty to her charges.

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