石塚 良太郎
Jan 26 · Last update 1 mo. ago.

What do you think about Hong Kong's Anti-Mask law?

Hong Kong citizens are protesting for freedom and democracy. But the HK government would like to contain protests and control anti-government protesters. To protect their anonymity, anti-government protestors want to cover their own faces during protests. China's AI and face recognition technology are some of the world's most sophisticated and are widely used in mainland China. As a result, China's central government may attempt to seriously regulate against anti-HK government protestors in the future using facial recognition technology. If a face recognition system is used commonly in HK, protesters could be easily identified and it is likely that more and more people will be arrested.
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Masks are a minor part of a much larger dispute
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An ineffective attempt to scare protesters off the streets
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Chinese facial recognition software – a worrying development
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HK citizens want to avoid control of Chinese Communist Party.
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Masks are a minor part of a much larger dispute

Beijing is trying to balance power, stability and image in a region that progressively matters less to them. As a result they are taking a very lenient approach by Chinese standards, and urging mild restriction in Hong Kong such as mask bans, a somewhat reserved response from what we can see in other regions of Mainland China that have similar histories of civil disobedience. In Xingjian province in China’s North West, the government have placed countless Uighurs, the native Turkic-speaking minority of the region, in ‘re-education centres’ in an effort to control and subjugate this ethnic minority. The Chinese government are thought to have imprisoned over a million Uighurs in such camps under the guise of fighting religious extremism. Similarly in Tibet ‘re-education’ sites often face accusations of torture from Tibetans with many commenting that the system of heavy surveillance, policing and removal of civil liberties in Tibet was a precursor to what is now occurring in Xingjian. Frustrations over Chinese domination of Tibet have become so intense that Tibetans have a history of carrying out self-immolation in protest in Tibet and in India.

But Hong Kong is different, the island was colonised by Britain for 156 years and became one of the original ‘Asian Tiger’ economies following the Second World War, industrialising at a rapid pace and becoming an international hub of business. However following Mainland China’s subsequent prolific rise in wealth, the mainland is now the second largest economy in the world, with numerous business hubs of its own that far outweigh Hong Kong in terms of regional importance. Hong Kong matters less to China financially, and this is more of a long game for them, waiting until 2047 when Hong Kong is legally aligned with the mainland and China will be much more heavy handed in the name of stability, like elsewhere in the country. A ban on masks will ultimately be the least of people’s worries in Hong Kong with such abhorrent civil rights infringement occurring on a daily basis just over the border.

edition.cnn.com/2018/10/10/asia/xinjiang-china-reeducation-camps-intl/index.html voanews.com/south-central-asia/tibetan-re-education-camp-journal-tells-chinas-tactics-now-used-uighurs archive.org/details/hongkongroadto190000buck vox.com/2019/8/1/20750037/hong-kong-protests-china-military-invasion

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 12
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DH edited this paragraph
Beijing is trying to balance power, stability and image in a region that progressively matters less to them. As a result they are taking a very lenient approach by Chinese standards, and urging mild restriction in Hong Kong such as mask bans, a somewhat reserved response from what we can see in other regions of Mainland China that have similar histories of civil disobedience. In Xingjian province in China’s North West, the government have placed countless Uighurs, the native Turkic-speaking minority of the region, in ‘re-education centres’ in an effort to control and subjugate this ethnic minority. The Chinese government are thought to have imprisoned over a million Uighurs in such camps under the guise of fighting religious extremism. Similarly in Tibet ‘re-education’ sites often face accusations of torture from Tibetans with many commenting that the system of heavy surveillance, policing and removal of civil liberties in Tibet was a precursor to what is now occurring in Xingjian. Frustrations over Chinese domination of Tibet have become so intense that Tibetans have a history of carrying out self-immolation in protest in Tibet and in India.

An ineffective attempt to scare protesters off the streets

This is nothing to do with prosecuting everyone in the protests, it was an attempt to instil fear in protesters and it ultimately failed. It is purely a psychological move on the part of the Hong Kong Government, trying to intimidate protestors off the street by making protecting their anonymity illegal. Due to this the mask back has been described as representing a disproportionate infringement of the rights of Hong Kong’s citizenship, adding to previous infringements on free speech in the form of an injunction against 'violence-inciting online comments' (which could apply to any comment that doesn't condemn the protests). It is ridiculous that the Hong Kong Government believe that protests against the gradual erosion of civil liberties can be in any way addressed by the further suspension of human rights.

Furthermore the mask ban in particular has not worked. More protesters came out to demonstrate directly after the first mask ban was put in place in October 2019, it had the opposite reaction than what was intended, instead making the protests larger and leading to more violence. The Mainland government and Carrie Lam’s Executive Council underestimated the level of dedication in the Hongkongers out on the streets, and overestimated how easily they could be deterred. Even legal experts and police have called the ban into question, police claiming it will be unenforceable, while legal experts have said it would not hold up in a court of law.

nytimes.com/2019/10/04/world/asia/hong-kong-emergency-powers.html scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3031483/anti-mask-law-protesters-would-be-tough-enforce-streets-and ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/anti-mask-law-ruled-a-disproportionate-infringement-of-rights-amidst-political-upheaval-in-hong-kong bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-49939173

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 12
Approved
DH edited this paragraph
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/world/asia/hong-kong-emergency-powers.html https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3031483/anti-mask-law-protesters-would-be-tough-enforce-streets-and http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/anti-mask-law-ruled-a-disproportionate-infringement-of-rights-amidst-political-upheaval-in-hong-kong/ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-49939173

Chinese facial recognition software – a worrying development

Hong Kong’s anti-mask law is a worrying development given recent advances in Chinese facial recognition software and China’s systematic abuse of human rights elsewhere in the region. Chinese companies, such as Hanwang Technology Ltd, have invented solutions to successfully recognise people even when they are wearing masks, using software that has been in development for more than a decade, the company uses a sample database of around 6 million unmasked faces. While this particular company invented the technology to better deal with the regions coronavirus outbreak, this is also a worrying turn of events in that this technology could easily be employed to fill the legal and enforcement gaps in Hong Kong’s controversial mask ban.

Significant challenges to anit-mask laws that exist in the US have been made by American-Iranian's in the country, who have argued that such laws put them and their family at risk from retaliation from the Iranian government. Technological advances are not isolated, as with all technologies mask-proof facial recognition software will inevitably be copied, stolen or sold and eventually be universal. By technologically overcoming protections made against an individual’s anonymity, governments, courts and the people themselves will be powerless to stop parties that wish to seek unfair retribution against the individual. If the Mainland Chinese government wishes they could command the use of this technology in Hong Kong, probably causing further fear, rights abuses and violence on the troubled island.

aclu.org/news/free-speech/americas-mask-bans-in-the-age-of-face-recognition-surveillance businesstimes.com.sg/technology/china-firm-develops-system-to-recognise-faces-behind-coronavirus-masks nasdaq.com/articles/china-firm-develops-system-to-recognise-faces-behind-coronavirus-masks-2020-03-09

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 12
Approved
DH edited this paragraph
Hong Kong’s anti-mask law is a worrying development given recent advances in Chinese facial recognition software and China’s systematic abuse of human rights elsewhere in the region. Chinese companies, such as Hanwang Technology Ltd, have invented solutions to successfully recognise people even when they are wearing masks, using software that has been in development for more than a decade, the company uses a sample database of around 6 million unmasked faces. While this particular company invented the technology to better deal with the regions coronavirus outbreak, this is also a worrying turn of events in that this technology could easily be employed to fill the legal and enforcement gaps in Hong Kong’s controversial mask ban.

HK citizens want to avoid control of Chinese Communist Party.

Chinese Communist Party dictates mainland China. HK citizens feel they face a freedom crisis as Hong Kong is becoming increasingly closer to mainland China. Anonymity in a protest and wearing a mask as a measure against tear gas are reasonable desires for protesters. However, due to the fact that demonstration have escalated and become violent, it is inevitable that the Hong Kong police will suppress protests and maintain security.

Even from a global view, the Anti-Mask laws are enforced in many countries in the name of security. Historically, it has been unavoidable in times of mass protest for governments to enforce a law forbidding rioters to wear masks in demonstrations. For exsample, Anti-Mask Law in New York has been made since 1845.

References qz.com/1721901/hong-kong-anti-mask-law-a-history-of-mask-bans-around-the-world

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 10
DH edited this paragraph
Even from a global view, the Anti-Mask laws are enforced in many countries already in the name of security. Historically, it has been unavoidable in times of mass protest for governments to enforce a law forbidding rioters to wear masks in demonstrations. For example, an Anti-Mask Law has been in place in New York State since 1845, due to the states Anti-Rent War, a tenant revolt in upstate New Work from 1839 to 1845. In this way if protesters want to protest themselves and there anonymity with masks they need to remove the violence from Hong Kong's protests.
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