Google Rejects Hong Kong’s Request to Remove Protest Anthem From Top Search Results: HK Official

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
December 13, 2022Hong Kong

Hong Kong requested that Google remove a protest song from its top search results for Hong Kong’s national anthem and replace it with China’s national anthem, but the request was denied, the city’s security chief said Monday.

Hong Kong’s security secretary, Chris Tang, said that Google refused to change the top search results for Hong Kong’s national anthem because they were generated by an algorithm “with no human input.”

“We felt great regret and this has hurt the feelings of Hong Kong people,” Tang said, The Standard reported. He argued that Google provided paid advertising services to allow specific results to appear on top searches.

The request was made after “Glory to Hong Kong,” the unofficial anthem of Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests, was played at the rugby match in South Korea on Nov. 13, which prompted Hong Kong to open an investigation.

The tournament organizer, Asian Rugby Association, issued an apology and said that its staff mistakenly played a song downloaded from the internet instead of the correct anthem.

Tang said that Google’s refusal to comply shows its use of “double standards” towards Hong Kong, citing Google’s recent approval of a ruling by the European Union’s top court allowing users in Europe to remove search results deemed incorrect.

“The [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] government will take every measure to get Google to correct the search result,” he added.

Representatives for Google didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Protest Anthem

“Glory to Hong Kong” was composed by a musician using the pseudonym Thomas with the help of Hong Kong netizens from the online forum LIHKG. It was released in 2019 when Hong Kong’s protests erupted against Beijing’s tightening control over the city.

Its lyrics call for democracy and the liberation of Hong Kong. It was banned in 2020 after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed a national security law on the city to punish what the CCP defines as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.

But the song appeared as the top result when people searched for the Hong Kong national anthem on Google, leading to organizers at the Asian Rugby Association mistaking it for the city’s anthem.

Last month, Hong Kong issued guidelines stipulating that athletes must gesture a time-up sign if the wrong national anthem was played, or they would be asked to withdraw from the competition.

The protest anthem was also played at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship in Dubai on Dec. 2. Hong Kong police said that they would “sternly follow up on whether the incident involves a conspiracy to breach the national anthem law or Hong Kong laws,” Hong Kong Free Press reported.

Google’s Case in Europe

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last week ordered Google to remove data from online search results if users can prove it is inaccurate.

“The operator of a search engine must de-reference information found in the referenced content where the person requesting de-referencing proves that such information is manifestly inaccurate,” the court said on Dec. 8.

Judges said such proof does not have to come from a judicial decision against website publishers and that users only have to provide evidence that can reasonably be required of them to find.

A Google spokesperson responded by saying, “Since 2014, we’ve worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe, and to strike a sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy.”

The case stems from a complaint filed by two executives from a group of investment companies who had asked Google to remove search results linking their names to certain articles criticizing the group’s investment model.

The same court in 2014 enshrined the right to be forgotten, saying that people could ask search engines like Google to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for their names.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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