Hong Kong police have arrested a man for allegedly spreading a false message about government policy and Covid-19 on the internet.

The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau arrested a 39-year-old local male in Tsing Yi on Saturday morning for transmission of a false message by telecommunication and seized a smartphone. The police refused to detail what messages or platforms were involved but told the press that the force had combined investigations to cover several messages related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government cash handout scheme and other social issues.

Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Superintendent of the Bureau Wilson Tam told the press on Saturday that the bureau has been closely monitoring the internet and received reports from members of the public regarding the message. They said they would not rule out the possibility of further arrests on the grounds of the suspects motives, whether financial losses were incurred, or whether the case is connected to a group.

“Over the past few months, a lot of bogus information has been circulating in the cyberspace. Ill-intentioned people [have] kept spreading rumours and erroneous information and a lot of citizens have bought into the unfounded claims, leading to unnecessary misunderstanding or even fear.”

He urged the public to pay attention to government official channels including the police force’s social media platforms: “As far as the existing legislation in Hong Kong is concerned, most of the crime prevention laws in the real world [are] applicable to the online world,” Tam said. “Therefore the public should use the internet lawfully and properly. There is no room for tolerance [of] any law-breaching act.”

Photo: Internet.

According to Ming Pao, the 39-year-old male was arrested for posting a parody of a pro-Beijing DAB poster featuring chairperson Starry Lee and several members: “We have lost. It’s the end of Hong Kong if you vote for the DAB. Mutual destruction in order to save Hong Kong,” it read.

Under a colonial-era law, offences connected to telephone calls, messages or telegrams carry a penalty of HK$1,000 and up to two months behind bars.

Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.