Privacy concerns drive Naver out . . .
Naver is moving its back-up data storage centre out of Hong Kong due to privacy fears sparked by Hong Kong’s National Security Law. The South Korean tech giant, known as the ‘Korean Google,’ dominates web services in South Korea, and is one of the key players in its innovation sector with large stakes in artificial intelligence R&D. Naver is also the majority stakeholder of Line, a messaging app popular in Japan and various countries in Southeast Asia. Naver’s exit follows other notable industry leaders moving key infrastructure and offices out of Hong Kong. In the past few weeks, The New York Times and TikTok have both decided to move out of Hong Kong.
The ‘Great Firewall’ grows larger . . .
Many global tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are currently reviewing their operations in Hong Kong in light of the National Security Law. The Law effectively brings Hong Kong’s internet under Beijing’s surveillance. Foreign tech companies are concerned about the possibility of being forced to hand over user data to Hong Kong authorities who may enforce content censorship on behalf of Beijing. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have currently suspended processing requests for user data from law enforcement authorities in Hong Kong.
Fleeing the flames . . .
Analysts predict a further exodus of foreign companies from Hong Kong. In particular, VPN operators, which provide tools that allow users to circumnavigate Beijing’s internet controls, are expected to be next to leave. Most companies exiting Hong Kong are looking to relocate their operations and assets to Singapore, as Naver has done. Canadian companies have historically had a strong presence and connection to the Hong Kong economy – the coming weeks and months may see them brushing up on their Singaporean business etiquette instead.
- Financial Times: South Korea’s Naver relocates Hong Kong data centre to Singapore
- Nikkei Asian Review: South Korea's Naver shifts data from Hong Kong to Singapore
- South China Morning Post: National security law: Naver moves data centre from Hong Kong to Singapore