Regarding the Doxxing Injunction issued by the High Court last month on prohibiting disclosure of personal data of police officers and their families, Mr Justice Russell Coleman accepted HKJA’s application today (November 8) to amend the injunction to exempt journalists from disclosing police officers’ information when conducting legitimate news activities, which protect Hong Kong’s constitutionally protected freedoms of the press and expression.
Mr Justice Russell Coleman acknowledged that the media has an important supervisory role in the society and must strike a balance between protecting personal privacy and the freedom of the press. He therefore agreed with journalists who act for the purpose of a news activity as defined in section 61 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance should be exempt from the prohibition. In response to recent reports of fake news or fake reporters, the court made it clear that publishing fake news is not a news activity and therefore will not be exempt. The court also reminded the media that publishing content that is of public interest does not mean that the content is in the public interest and believes that the media should handle it properly.
Besides, the term “pestering” was deleted in the original injunction concerning” intimidating, molesting, harassing, threatening, or pestering any Police Officer(s) and/or their spouses and/or their respective family members”, because the definition of the term was too broad.
HKJA chairperson YEUNG Kin Hing welcomed the court’s decision, stating that the main purpose of this application is to ensure that the media have the right to take part in lawful news activity, it was because if the media’s lawful acts are not exempted, some reports will become illegal, and will have be a chilling effect. Yeung also said that different media organizations now had codes for journalists’ reference, after the court amended the injunction today, as long as the journalists engage in legitimate news activities and follow ethical standards, they will not be affected by the injunction.
YEUNG Kin Hing said that the court’s decision confirms freedom of information is very important for the media to play a supervisory role and must be maintained.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
8 November 2019