入稟覆核政府禁制網上言論 Challenge against govt’s injunction to block free speech online
1. 政府取得臨時禁制令，禁止任何於網上包括在LIHKG及Telegram 煽動暴力的言論
2. 禁制令影響包括個人及網上平台，可迫使ISP 過濾內容甚至封鎖網站
高等法院於10月31日頒布臨時禁制令，禁止任何人於網上，包括 LIHKG 及 Telegram，發佈或轉發任何促進、鼓勵或煽動使用或威脅使用暴力的言論。政府近日三番四次利用申請禁制令，變相繞過社會討論和立法會程序，無法無天。今次的禁制令侵犯市民言論自由，形同實施大規模 「網禁」的熱身動作。此例一開，全面網絡審查勢將再推進一步。
香港互聯網協會是國際互聯網協會（ISOC）的分會之一，成立於 2005 年，宗旨是透過政策研究、用戶教育和參與國際互聯網發展和管治，推廣開放、不受限制和有益使用互聯網；捍衛表達及言論自由、保障個人私隱和反對歧視。ISOC HK一直致力於鞏固香港作為互聯網樞紐的地位，為保障香港互聯網用戶的權益發聲。(https://www.isoc.hk/about/）
Challenge against government’s injunction to block free speech online
Stop Great Firewall of China from engulfing Hong Kong
The High Court in Hong Kong issued an interim injunction on October 31st, prohibiting anyone from willfully posting and reposting “any material or information that promotes, encourages or incites the use or threat of violence” online, including on LIHKG and Telegram. The latest government’s move to file another injunction was yet again an attempt to circumvent due public consultation and legislative process. The injunction is a severe threat to freedom of expression online. It is also an extremely dangerous first step of Internet censorship that we fear the government is paving way for implementing Internet shutdown.
The injunction provisions are overbroad, anyone who issues comments on police brutality and criticism on the government could potentially be construed to be “inciting, aiding or abetting” others to commit unlawful acts. The injunction can even go further to include anyone who simply ‘like’, share and respond to the comments. It is possible that with the use of the injunction, the government may force online platforms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to censor and restrict access to websites and applications, or request private information of online users who are aiding in the dissemination of the online content. The injunction will not only affect free speech online, it will destroy Hong Kong’s open and free Internet, as well as free flow of information, if the government seeks to invoke more power to censor the Internet.
Introducing Internet censorship of online speech is similar to the Great Firewall of China. It is a serious breach of citizens’ freedom of expression and Hong Kong’s long cherished free flow of information. The government's injunction creates a chilling effect, spreads white terror, and forces the public to engage in self-censorship. If the situation remains unchecked, the police could potentially use the injunction to persecute more innocent and law abiding citizens who have the courage to speak up against the government and injustice.
We must not allow a dangerous precedent to be set in curbing online free speech. In our best efforts to avert Internet blocking and censorship, we have decided to file a civil action to review against the injunction. We hope the court would rule the injunction unconstitutional and block the possibility of any attempts to censor the Internet in the future. The funds raised will be used to pay for the legal costs of the review that we might bring the case to higher courts.
The fight against the Great Firewall of China belongs to us all. We call on you support on this crowdfunding campaign and together, we defend our freedom of speech and an open and free Internet.
Internet Society Hong Kong
The Internet Society Hong Kong is the Hong Kong chapter of the Internet Society. Established in 2005, ISOC HK’s vision is that an open and accessible network, in technology and policy, contributes to and provides a platform for sustainable development of the information society, which enriches the human experience. ISOC HK is dedicated to the open, unencumbered, beneficial use of the Internet; the upholding of the freedom of expression and opinion, privacy of personal information and aversion of social discrimination; through responsible self-regulation and harmonized governance. (https://www.isoc.hk/about/）
We are calling on the public to rise in support of the crowdfunding campaign for the legal costs for carrying out the review against the injunction and for other litigation costs to defend Internet freedom in the future. We hope the court will declare the injunction against free speech online unconstitutional.
Crowdfunding amount and usage:
- The estimation of both parties’ legal costs is at least HK$2,500,000. Our crowdfunding target is HK$3,000,000 (including ~HK$2,8M for litigation costs, and around HK$200k as the 6.9% administrative fees and processing fees charged by the crowdfunding platform, credit cards and payment platform Stripe).
- The proceeds from the crowdfunding campaign will be used to pay for the costs of the civil action to challenge at the High Court of First Instance. Remaining will go to the High Court of Appeal and the Court of Final Appeal if needed.
- Costs include the legal advice by local and overseas legal experts, legal costs and disbursements at trial; and the legal cost of the government’s side if the case is lost and the court requires the sponsor to pay.
Fund supervision:We are committed to publicizing the income and expenses to the public openly and transparently, ensuring that the use of funds is in line with the stated purposes. To ensure all funds raised are used in accordance with the purpose of the crowdfunding, Mr. Alan Chan (Accountant) and Ms. Agnes Yeh (Former banker)
are appointed to act as the trustees of the funds. The trustees will regularly report to the public about the progress of the crowdfunding, progress of the legal action and financial status; we will publish the accounts audited by the accountant every three months until the entire legal action is completed.
After settling all legal costs for the legal action, remaining funds, if any, will be split equally and donated to the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund and Spark Alliance.
All funds collected will go through ISOC HK’s Stripe account and will be transferred to the account of the law firm.