Skip to main content

WhatsApp will halt processing of Hong Kong police requests for user data

WhatsApp announced on Monday that it had “paused” its processing of law enforcement requests for user data from Hong Kong, Reuters reported.

In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson said the pause would be in place “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts.”

The National Security Law in question, which passed in China last week, has already raised alarm from pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. It greatly expands China’s reach and control over the territory, which has operated semiautonomously since 1997, when the British ceded control. One pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong told CNN that the law basically subsumes Hong Kong back into mainland China, with little regard for the democratic processes that the city has in place.

Digital privacy expert Ray Walsh told Digital Trends that WhatsApp’s decision to not cooperate with Hong Kong police over concerns about the National Security Law was a “win for digital privacy.” He called the new security law “invasive.”

“It is great news to see big tech companies like WhatsApp pushing back in favor of democracy and freedom of expression,” Walsh said in an email. “However, for Hong Kong citizens, the danger is that pushback from companies like WhatsApp could lead to complete blackouts of important services in the region.”

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, did not respond to Digital Trend’s request for comment on how long the pause might last, and whether there might be a chance that WhatsApp could end up being banned in Hong Kong. We will update this article when we hear back.

WhatsApp has been banned in mainland China since 2017. Facebook has been at least partially blocked since 2009.

Editors' Recommendations

Maya Shwayder
I'm a multimedia journalist currently based in New England. I previously worked for DW News/Deutsche Welle as an anchor and…
WhatsApp launches crypto-powered mobile payments in the U.S.
WhatsApp Messenger on an iPhone.

WhatsApp has launched a digital payments pilot in the U.S., allowing a limited number of people to send and receive money with the same ease they would a regular message. This payment feature is powered by the Meta-owned Novi digital wallet service, which uses Pax Dollars (USDP) to facilitate transfers, and they all go through instantly.

Meta launched Novi back in 2020, saying, "With Novi, sending money will be as easy as sending a message. You’ll be able to use Novi as a stand-alone app, as well as in Messenger and WhatsApp. There will be no hidden charges to add, send, receive or withdraw money, and your transfers will arrive instantly. All Novi customers will be verified using government-issued ID, and fraud protections will be built in throughout the app."

Read more
WhatsApp upgrades its disappearing messages feature

WhatsApp will now allow you to make your messages vanish for all new chats. It's a feature that means that all messages sent within a conversation will disappear after a period of time, with the company letting you choose between a day, a week, or three months.

"As more of our conversations move from face-to-face to digital, we acknowledge there is a certain magic in just sitting down with someone in-person, sharing your thoughts in confidence, knowing you are both connecting in private and in that moment. The freedom to be honest and vulnerable, knowing that conversation isn’t being recorded and stored somewhere forever," the WhatsApp team explained.  The feature is rolling out now on iOS and Android. Enabling it is done by opening the WhatsApp settings and navigating to Account>Privacy>Default Message Timer.

Read more
WhatsApp finally enables its long-awaited multidevice feature for certain users
WhatsApp chat transfer on Mac and iPhone.

After Meta's Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that WhatsApp would be receiving multidevice support this year, WhatsApp has finally unveiled the feature, though with certain limitations.

The new multidevice feature has been rolled out to all users on iOS and Android who are using the WhatsApp business app or WhatsApp Beta for Android with either version or 2.21.23.

Read more