Hong Kong is mulling real-name registration programme for mobile phone SIM cards in a move likely to spark privacy and surveillance fears.

Update: Minister says Hong Kong SIM card ID registration plan will thwart crime, but expert says workarounds possible

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau will lead a press conference at 2.30pm to announce details of a public consultation.

telecom mobile phone
File photo: Pixabay.

“The ability for people to be easily reachable and connect to the internet is important for a prosperous digital economy,” Hong Kong-based IT security expert Leo Weese told HKFP. “Placing arbitrary restrictions on who can and cannot communicate with the world contravenes the desire to develop and expand Hong Kong’s economy.”

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced in 2017 that everyone in China would have to use a SIM card that was linked to their identity. Phones have required real name registration in the mainland since 2010.

In early January, Hong Kong police ordered the city’s major telecoms providers to block access to an anti-government website, in the first instance of internet censorship since the onset of the national security law last June.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.