Google should say whether it will enforce ban on ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ protest song and ‘keep its word’, justice minister Paul Lam says

Google should say whether it will enforce ban on ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ protest song and ‘keep its word’, justice minister Paul Lam says

Hong Kong’s justice minister has urged internet search giant Google to say whether it will follow local laws by removing a controversial protest song after a court ruled to ban its distribution.

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok on Sunday called on Google to “keep its word” from past discussions with authorities and remove links to “Glory to Hong Kong” – considered the unofficial anthem of the 2019 anti-government protests – from search results.

Authorities last year said Google had declined to take down the links unless it saw a court order that deemed the song’s distribution breached the city’s laws.

“All business corporations have to walk the talk. We are eagerly expecting their response,” Lam said on a radio show.

“I believe all of us are quite impatient and hope to see it take action as quickly as possible.”

He added the company was required to ensure content on its platform aligned with the city’s laws.

Google, which also owns YouTube, where renditions of the song are available, earlier said it was reviewing the court judgment.

The Court of Appeal last Wednesday ruled in favour of Lam by granting the interim injunction he sought last year over the song, which has frequently been mistaken overseas for China’s national anthem.

The move banned people from “broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing [the song] in any way” with the intention to incite others to separate Hong Kong from the rest of the country, commit a seditious act or insult the national anthem, “March of the Volunteers”.

It also prohibited anyone from playing the song in a manner likely to cause it “to be mistaken as the national anthem insofar as [the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] is concerned” or suggest the city “is an independent state and has a national anthem of her own”.

Lam on Sunday said that the government had contacted online platforms, including Google, which he said had attracted the most attention, to inform them of the new rules.

He said that although Google might need some time to get legal advice given the court only handed down the ruling in recent days, he believed the tech giant already had established policies regarding the removal of content containing hate speech, seditious material or which violated laws.

“I do not see any reason the company [Google] would not comply with its in-house policies, or a formal court order,” said Lam.

The Post has contacted Google for comment.

Paul Lam says companies must “walk the talk” when it comes to the city’s laws. Photo: Dickson Lee

In the written judgment, three judges said that the song had become a weapon with the effect of “justifying and even romanticising and glorifying the unlawful and violent acts inflicted on Hong Kong in the past few years”.

They added the song could arouse and rekindle strong emotions and the desire for violent confrontations.

By granting the injunction, the court saw a “compelling need” to aid the criminal law for safeguarding national security, provided that the song was still freely available on the internet and remained prevalent.

Lam said that with the court accepting his legal arguments, the injunction would “draw out the clear red line” to help tell the public about the situations in which the song could or could not be used.

He said he expected the ban would have a “deterrent effect”.

The court had ruled that exemptions were made for academic and journalistic purposes.

But it added that the injunction was “necessary” to persuade internet platform operators to remove problematic videos in connection with the song.

“I, alongside all Hong Kong residents and people from mainland China, are all looking forward to knowing the company’s official response,” Lam said.



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