The Washington Post reported that Google stopped accepting direct data from users by the authorities in Hong Kong following the adoption of the controversial national security legislation by the state government in Beijing.
Despite officials' claims that the law would apply to a few groups only, critics are now saying that China is a new way to squash Hong Kong's political dissent because the wording is vague enough to be used against people who don't like government.
"Any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against Central People 's Government or the theft of state secrets shall be prohibited by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on its own by foreign political organisations or agencies in carrying out political activities in the region and shall be prohibited from establishing links between the political or bodies in the Region.
The post quoted an anonymous person with an awareness of the situation in breaking the story. This change brings Google's Hong Kong data request policy in line with its policy on mainland China.
Google, together with Facebook and Twitter, initially stopped examining such requests until the new security law was better understood.
We haven't produced data in response to new requests from the Hong Kong authorities since the new national security law was enacted in June, and that's still the case,' says Google to media outlets.
"As always, officials outside the United States can use diplomatic procedures to seek the necessary information for criminal investigations. We examine carefully all user data requests and use excessively broad data to protect the privacy of our users.
Google told Hong Kong 's authorities on Thursday that their requests for user information would be redirected to the U.S. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of China, according to the Post. Department of Justice and is described as a "polluting" option which may take months to produce results.
While the treaty still exists, President Trump issued in July an executive order suspending the US Hong Kong extradition agreement. Countries such as Australia, Canada and Britain I did the same. As a consequence, China has suspended its legal aid treaties, signalling future tensions for the US.