Google has reportedly complied with information requests from Hong Kong’s authorities regardless of an earlier pledge to not supply town consumer information with out the U.S. Division of Justice’s cooperation.
The Washington Publish reported in August 2020 that Google would require Hong Kong to submit requests for information by way of the Mutual Authorized Help Treaty (MLAT) with the Justice Division due to a July 2020 nationwide safety regulation that made sweeping changes to town’s insurance policies.
However a brand new Hong Kong Free Press report has revealed that Google complied with requests it acquired from Hong Kong’s authorities a minimum of 3 times between July and December 2020. Not one of the requests have been submitted by way of the MLAT between the U.S. and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Free Press mentioned that one request “was an emergency disclosure request involving a reputable menace to life” and that the opposite two concerned human trafficking. Google reportedly advised the outlet that its world coverage does not require such requests to be submitted by way of the MLAT.
The corporate additionally mentioned that it did not present any “content material information” in response to those requests; as a substitute it offered metadata that would embrace a given consumer’s “title, related e mail and cellphone numbers, IP addresses, billing data, timestamps and e mail headers.”
It isn’t unusual for firms, regulation enforcement companies, and others to defend practices involving metadata as a result of it is merely information about information. However metadata can be utilized to glean somebody’s normal location, contacts, and different data that is usually thought-about personal.
Google’s compliance with these requests additionally makes it unclear the way it decides to deal with information requests from Hong Kong’s authorities. A yr in the past it mentioned all these requests must be submitted by the MLAT; now it is mentioned that a minimum of some requests do not must be.
The corporate did not instantly reply to a request for remark.