HK court rejects police group’s application to keep voter details under wraps over doxxing concerns

09-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A Hong Kong court on Wednesday dismissed an application by the city’s largest police group to ban election authorities from publicly disclosing voters’ details.

The Court of First Instance ruled that the publication of voter registries, which make the names and residential addresses of voters available for public inspection, are both lawful and constitutionally compliant.

Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming said the registries were rationally connected with the aims of preserving the integrity of the electoral system and easing canvassing activities by candidates.

The judge also found no evidence that information made available through the registries had been used for doxxing, adding that police officers should expect no greater degree of privacy than other voters.

The ruling followed a legal challenge by the Junior Police Officers’ Association (JPOA), which successfully applied for a temporary ban last October on the publication of voters’ personal details. It said the move was to counter doxxing attacks amid the anti-government protests, during which the force had become a lightning rod for public discontent.

The JPOA said the registers, which list the names and addresses of voters, could assist doxxers in the malicious publication of personal particulars of its 25,000 members on the internet and across social media platforms. It said the doxxing attacks had affected officers’ work and caused psychological stress to their families.

The law generally requires election authorities to make available a finalised version of the voters’ registry for public inspection, and update it annually.

The group filed the application for judicial review to the High Court on October 15, in hopes of barring public inspection of all voting registers ahead of the district council polls on November 24.

It also asked the court to make such a ban temporarily effective until the end of the legal proceedings.

The Court of Appeal granted a short-term injunction on October 22, after the lower court turned down the JPOA’s request.

The appeal court, however, allowed authorities to supply an extract of the finalised register to candidates in the municipal polls last year.


Category: Hong Kong

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