YouTube to block Hong Kong protest anthem videos following court directive

The Hong Kong government has not yet responded to the decision.

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Alphabet’s YouTube announced its compliance with a court decision to block access to 32 video links in Hong Kong, marking a move critics argue infringes on the city’s freedoms amid tightening security measures. The decision followed a government application granted by Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal, targeting a protest anthem named ‘Glory to Hong Kong,’ with judges cautioning against its potential use by dissidents to incite secession.

Expressing disappointment, YouTube stated it would abide by the removal order while highlighting concerns regarding the chilling effect on online free expression. Observers, including the US government, voiced worries over the ban’s impact on Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial hub committed to the free flow of information.

Industry groups emphasised the importance of maintaining a free and open internet in Hong Kong, citing its significance in preserving the city’s competitive edge. The move reflects broader trends of tech companies complying with legal requirements, with Google parent Alphabet having previously restricted content in China.

Why does it matter?

Despite YouTube’s action, tensions persist over the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, underscored by ongoing international scrutiny and criticism of the city’s security crackdown on dissent. As the city grapples with balancing national security concerns and its promised autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, the implications for its future as a global business centre remain uncertain.