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Articles: Free speech & transparency

Why has Google cast me into oblivion?
BBC, 2-Jul-2014
The BBC's economics editor gives a first-hand description of what Google does when it removes a page from search results "on European versions" of its search engine. This follows the European Court of Justice's ruling. The Great Firewall of Europe is now under construction.
The right to remember
In the wake of ECJ's Google v Spain ruling, we publish a letter from the UK Information Commissioner regarding the sanctity of newspaper archives, and then look at the unintended and dangerous consequences of the ECJ's ruling. You really don't have a right to make other people forget, and you do have a right to remember. (20-Jun-2014)
HK's outspoken media chiefs are facing growing intimidation
Sydney Morning Herald, 31-May-2014
In this article, Next Media spokesman Mark Simon alleges that HSBC and Standard Chartered have ended their advertising on request from Beijing.
Ombudsman discloses more information
Following pressure from Webb-site, the Ombudsman has today published a summary of the submissions received during its investigations on Access to Information and keeping public archives. The submissions show strong support for legislation. Meanwhile, the wheels at the Law Reform Commission are slowly turning and covering similar ground. (17-Apr-2014)
Statement by CE on attack on MediaNet Resources Ltd COO Mr Kevin Lau
HK Government, 26-Feb-2014
He is the recently removed Chief Editor of Ming Pao newspaper. Why does the government evade this point by describing him as the COO of a BVI company which does not even have a place of business in HK (it is a fellow subsidiary of Media Chinese International Ltd, which owns Ming Pao Newspapers Ltd)?
China activist lawyer Xu Zhiyong on trial
BBC, 22-Jan-2014
With video of China's plain-clothes heavies moving the reporter away.
Bloomberg News is said to curb articles that might anger China
New York Times, 8-Nov-2013
"A system has been in place that allows editors to add an internal prepublication code to some articles to ensure that they do not appear on terminals in China, two employees said".
Response to HK's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data
Last week's very public intervention by the Government's Privacy Commissioner regarding the Webb-site Who's Who database raises important implications for the freedom in Hong Kong to compile, publish, and even access compilations of public domain data on individuals. Having raised these issues, the PCPD must now clarify where we all stand. (20-Feb-2013)
HKIDs and Government secrecy
Webb-site calls on Government to abandon plans to restrict access to HKIDs, and instead to promote their use as unique identifiers of individuals and eliminate their misuse as authenticators. A media exemption would imply media controls. We launch an index of HKIDs which are already on the web. The Companies Registry and Land Registry should tear down the pay-wall and provide open online access to all documents. (12-Feb-2013)
Submission to HK Ombudsman on access to information and records management
Webb-site calls for a Freedom of Information Ordinance, to include provisions on government record-keeping. There should be an online freely accessible archive of records, and pay-walls on registries should be demolished. Government claims to copyright should also be scrapped - we have already paid for what they produce, and it should not be commercial anyway. (12-Feb-2013)
HK proposes law making it harder to identify directors.  Your ID number is not a password
Bloomberg, 8-Jan-2013
See our article of 8-Nov-2010 for comments from us, and the Law Society, on why the Government should not be obfuscating ID numbers.
Government secrecy in land tenders
Since March, we've been quietly trying to persuade Government to increase transparency in land tenders, rather than publishing meaningless lists of shell bidders, often with unknown owners. The Government responded that information on who stands behind bidders was "unnecessary". That's inconsistent with its requirement that estate agents report possible money-laundering, and the secrecy also strengthens perceptions of collusion and protection of the developer cartel. (9-Nov-2012)
China keeps up block on Bloomberg website
Financial Times, 30-Jul-2012
What better endorsement of a publication can there be, than when a Government of 1.3 billion people blocks it rather than dispute any of its content?
Oriental Press Group Ltd, Ma Ching Kwan & others v Fevaworks Solutions Ltd & Alive! Media & Communications Ltd
HK Court of First Instance, 25-Feb-2011
In this libel case, the court finds that the operators of an internet discussion forum were mere "subordinate distributors" and as such the defence of innocent dissemination is open to them, but they lose that defence if they fail to remove defamatory material after they become aware of it.
Your ID number is not a password
There is a common misconception that HK identity card numbers are secrets, a misconception that Government is promoting by its policy actions, putting us on the road to increased abuse of the HKID and higher economic losses from fraud. To prevent this, the register of ID numbers and names should be published, after a transition to allow commercial abusers to stop abusing the ID for authentication. This article also looks at the unfulfilled potential of the Smart ID Card, including biometric authentication and electronic money. (8-Nov-2010)
The Prize for China
We look at what Liu Xiaobo's 2010 Nobel Peace Prize could mean for the future of the Chinese leadership and the future prosperity of the people in a more open society. Will the next Chinese winner be a leader, not a dissident? (9-Oct-2010)
The fictitious spokesman
We look at the HK Government's media management strategy, involving abuse of unattributed briefings, and the quotation of imaginary spokespersons, 97.3% of whom are male. The HK media should put a stop to this practice. (28-Feb-2010)
SDI breaches go dark at SFC
The SFC has quietly stopped disclosing details of successful prosecutions for failure to disclose shareholdings, including the name of the offender and the company involved. This is important information for investors, and we urge them to reinstate it. We also look at its questionable and inconsistent policy of redacting names from historic press releases. (6-Oct-2009)
Who is the Bauhinia Foundation?
We look into the Bauhinia Foundation, a tycoon-funded lobby group with an increasingly cosy relationship with Government, and the people behind it. BF refuses to disclose who funds it, or publish its accounts, claiming to be both private and a tax-exempt "trust of public character" at the same time. Who is making policy for HK - the Government, or a secretly-funded lobby group? (13-Jun-2008)
Is Tibet entitled to self-determination?
This is the article by Senior Counsel Paul Harris originally commissioned by Hong Kong Lawyer, the journal of the Law Society, the Editorial Board of which approved, but then U-turned and decided not to publish. In the interests of freedom of speech and debate that are cornerstones of HK's success, Webb-site.com is publishing it instead. (26-Apr-2008)
Justice Flip-flop
In a bizarre case, a judge first issued a ruling against an appeal, and then retracted it and allowed the appeal hours later, after being reminded that his judgement did not tally with statements made in the hearing 9 months earlier. The first judgement does not appear online - until now, that is. Webb-site.com is publishing it in the interests of transparency. (7-Jun-2006)
Government 'sanitizes' LegCo Cyber Report
In a test of the flimsy Code on Access to Information, Webb-site.com has been quietly battling to obtain the Cyberport accounts. We can now reveal that the Government has "sanitized" the financial information it recently released to LegCo. We call on Legislators to establish a Select Committee to investigate this controversial, untendered project and force disclosure of all the documents. If Government is serious about collusion with the business sector, or preventing it, then they should co-operate. (7-Feb-2005)
Cyberport Secrets
Government-owned Hong Kong Cyberport Development Holdings Ltd and its subsidiaries were incorporated in December 1999, but refuse to publish any of their accounts. What is the Government trying to hide? We also take a look at the controversial West Kowloon project, the winner of which will be determined by Government in a highly subjective process. (24-Oct-2004)
State Securities Above the Law
In another Webb-site.com exclusive, five years after the market intervention, an investor with over HK$87bn of stocks has claimed exemption from the new law which protect investors in Hong Kong, which includes disclosure, insider dealing and market manipulation. The Government claim comes from a written response to questions we raised at the MTRC AGM. We look at the implications. (8-Jun-2003)
SFC suspends Mr Ho Chung Ming for 4 months due to dishonesty conviction
SFC, 31-Jul-2001
An SFC spokesman said "It is important for investors to be aware of the history of the intermediaries that they are dealing with so that they can make an informed decision" - but unfortunately, they do not uniquely identify the "Ho Chung Ming" involved or say where he works.
Town Planning Bill
Guest writer Nicholas Brooke, Chairman of Brooke International and a member of the Town Planning Board, examines the proposals in the new Town Planning Bill and calls for the meetings of the board to be opened to the public. (2-Feb-2000)

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