Authorities in Hong Kong seized nearly 4,000 cell phones from protesters, and activists are concerned that police are reading their messages and installing spyware

Business Insider | 1/8/2020 | Rosie Perper
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Hong Kong police have seized more than 3,700 mobile phones used by protesters in the last several months of protest, the city's security chief said during a meeting on Wednesday.

More than 6,000 people have been arrested since protests against a proposed extradition bill erupted in June.

Secretary - Security - John - Lee - Meeting

Secretary for Security John Lee said during a meeting with lawmakers that a "digital forensic examination" was conducted on the mobile phones only, usually after obtaining a warrant and in accordance with the law.

But some lawmakers and activists argue that many of these mobile phone examinations are done without public knowledge and have been used by police to install spyware.

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Hong Kong police has seized more than 3,700 mobile phones used by protesters in the last several months of ongoing protests, the city's security chief said during a meeting.

Secretary - Security - John - Lee - Information

Secretary for Security John Lee disclosed the information during a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday. Lawmaker Charles Mok questioned the security chief about possible abuse of power among police and discussed complaints of police inspection of mobile phones without consent.

"Under Hong Kong law, law enforcement agencies have the responsibility to prevent and detect crime to protect citizens' lives and property. Over the course of carrying out their responsibilities, law enforcement agencies may exercise their search and seizure, confirmed by relevant legislation, and seize and examine various objects of suspected offenders, including mobile phones and other similar devices," Lee told the council in response to Mok's questioning.

June - November - Police - Cases - Phones

"From June to November 2019, police processed 1,429 cases that involved mobile phones as evidence," Lee said. "Among those cases, 3,721 mobile phones belonging to arrested persons or suspects were involved, and the relevant cases were all processed with search warrants issued by the court," he added.

More than 6,000 people have been arrested...
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