Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.”
She is not alone.
A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law.
Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing” Web site since it first emerged last year.
It continues to operate, despite requests last year from the Hong Kong privacy commissioner to remove all personal profiles, and it has been referred to the police for investigation.
Home addresses, social media profiles and telephone numbers feature alongside descriptions of individuals’ alleged “crimes.”
The Web site published information on at least 14 people it claims broke the new national security legislation — a charge which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison — within weeks of it being imposed by Beijing on the territory, an investigation found.
“When it first happened I was very stressed,” Ng said.
“I received some phone calls and messages from ‘blue ribbon’ people on Facebook,” she said, referring to government supporters who adopted the color because it is associated with the police.
“Every now and then, I receive a mass of WhatsApp messages, thousands of stickers. They call us cockroaches,” she said. “They know they will make people very scared, but I’m not afraid, because this is my freedom and I will defend my freedom.”
HK Leaks has so far posted the personal details of more than 2,000 people it deems guilty of various “misdeeds” — a 10-fold increase in a year.
Registered on a Russian server, it is specifically designed to evade prosecution, experts say.
It uses so-called bulletproof anonymous hosting — also favored by controversial white supremacist Web sites — and regularly shifts domains.
Online traffic has increased to about 230,000 annual unique page views, SiteWorthTraffic data showed.
In an update, the site now features a pop-up window saying “rioters have ruined the rule of law and order of society in Hong Kong,” and claims that more than 2,000 police officers and pro-China individuals have themselves been “doxxed” by activists.
Prominent pro-democracy leaders Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and Agnes Chow (周庭), cofounders of the now-disbanded Demosisto party, are on the site under a subsection called “Hong Kong independence rioter,” while media tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英) is also listed.
Also among the 14 alleged national security legislation offenders to have been “doxxed” are well-known democracy advocates Tony Chung (鍾翰林), Nathan Law (羅冠聰) and Ray Wong (黃台仰).
Chung in July became the first political figure to be arrested under the legislation over allegations that he had promoted Hong Kong independence through Studentlocalism, a group he cofounded in 2016.
Law fled to the UK when the national security legislation was passed. Later that month, Chinese media reported that Law and Joshua Wong were among six people wanted by police on charges of “inciting secession, and colluding with foreign and external forces.”
Ray Wong, who was granted refugee status in Germany in May 2018, said that he suspects he has been targeted as part of a harassment campaign by the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.
“I am not surprised at all,” he said. “The Hong Kong government said that they would try to arrest me by any means.”
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