'Stop phone hacking for China'

Pro-democracy leader starts petition to stop Israel’s Cellebrite cracking Hong Kong protesters' phones

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Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. (Facebook, Nathan Law photo)

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. (Facebook, Nathan Law photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law (羅冠聰) has started an online petition calling on the Israeli forensics company Cellebrite to stop helping the Hong Kong police crack protesters' cell phones.

In a Facebook post published Friday (July 17), the student leader pointed out that implementation of the new national security law has given local authorities the power to confiscate protesters' electronic devices without a warrant, which endangers every resident in the special administrative region. He added that information sharing is also criminalized under the vague offenses of "colluding with foreign forces" and "unlawfully provides State secrets or intelligence."

Law emphasized the Hong Kong police have used Cellebrite's hacking technology to get around security features on protesters' smartphones to gather evidence against them. He questioned whether the digital intelligence solutions provider, which promotes its technology as key to creating a "safer world," has instead jeopardized the personal safety of all Western nationals, who are subject to arbitrary detention by the Hong Kong police.

Law has started a petition called "Stop phone hacking for China" that asks Cellebrite to cease cooperation with the Hong Kong authorities and he urged Hongkongers to support the petition on change.org. The petition had garnered more than 21,000 signatures as of Saturday afternoon (July 18).

Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), another Hong Kong student activist and former secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō, mentioned in April that law enforcement had been relying on data-extraction devices bought from Cellebrite to break into protesters' mobile devices, including his. Stressing that all photos and contents on his cell phone were illegally seized by the police, he warned protesters about the risk of exchanging pro-democracy messages via their devices, reported Liberty Times.