BLOG – ‘Snitch’ Hotline for Striking Students May Breach Privacy Rules 1

Joshua Wong, of student movement Scholarism, has said that his group will consult lawyers to see if Robert Chow’s ‘snitch’ hotline for striking students breaks Hong Kong privacy rules. “If Robert Chow thinks students’ strikes are scary, what he is doing is absolutely horrifying,” Wong said.

Robert Chow 'snitch' hotline.

Video capture via Oriental Daily.

Yesterday, the pro-government Alliance for Peace and Democracy set up the hotline to discourage students from ‘breaking the law’, despite the fact that class boycotts are not illegal. A week-long walk-out is planned by students across the city on September 22nd to protest the restrictive model of universal suffrage set to be imposed on Hong Kong in 2017.

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The group says it will contact schools, the Education Bureau and parent-teacher associations but will not pass on individual names reported to them.

Netizens angry about the hotline have been repeatedly dialling the number given at a press conference yesterday causing Chow to accuse them of “occupying the phone line before occupying Central”.

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Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen branded the campaign “white terror“, calling it “worrying and unacceptable“, according to the SCMP.

Lee Suet Yin, chair of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools, said “What do students’ political views have anything to do with public interests? We encourage students to develop critical thinking, and if they come to the decision [to strike] on their own, why do you insist on publicising the school names?”

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Vice chair of the Human Rights Monitor, Chong Yiu-kwong, said that collecting data of students on strike might have violated local privacy laws. “The Alliance needs to answer many questions, such as How long will they keep the data? How will they ensure the data will be kept confidential?”, he asked.

Chow’s move is an affront to the the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was extended to Hong Kong in 1994. Article 15.1 (PDF) states that children have freedom of association and the freedom of peaceful assembly.

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The stunt has echoes of the cultural revolution in the mainland where citizens and students in particular were encouraged to become informants for the communist party.

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