WeChat users from the SARs need not to worry about custody despite SARs internet users might now find themselves to be more considerate in making comments online or on messaging platform, said Professor Hao Zhidong of the University of Macau (UMAC) to Business Daily.
According to the regulations posted by the Cyberspace Administration of China last week, creators of online groups on WeChat would be responsible for contents and information within the group chat.
In Macau, the majority uses WeChat for social connection.
WeChat provides instant messaging services, and any users could also create group chats that can accommodate a maximum of 500 users.
Although the new cyberspace regulation will come into effect in October, actions were already taken by the Chinese authority over inappropriate information circulated online.
Liu Pengfei, the creator of a WeChat group that discusses contemporary news and social topics, was arrested last week in Beijing, according to a Chinese rights protection media outlet Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch.
“Chinese users also found this a bug given that their speech is now more restricted,” said the Professor. “And so it is reasonable for Macau residents to worry about similar regulations happening to them.”
However, Professor Hao perceived that warnings would be given out to problematic users instead, given that ‘one country, two systems’ is still ongoing.
He further explained that nowadays WeChat can put control to restrict certain phrases or not allow users to receive certain information.
“They don’t really need to arrest people because it is not necessary,” noted the Professor.
Meanwhile, the UMAC professor said the MSAR authorities “have no confidence in handling the rumours circulating online but they are also unable to stop the rumours” after the hit of Typhoon Hato.
“So they find an excuse saying that the rumour is spread from the U.S.,” remarked Hao. “Do you have evidence proving that the rumour comes from the U.S.? The claim that the rumour comes from the U.S. is a rumour per se.”
In Professor Hao’s opinion, the best way to clarify after rumours spread is to release an immediate official statement.
Following the new regulations introduced by the Chinese cyber security office, Weibo Corp., a similar platform to Twitter, has also been requiring users to provide their real identities in order to post information and to make comments since 2011.
However, Weibo has further tightened the scrutiny last week announcing that all users, including users that were registered before 2011, are required to confirm their real identities before September 15, including users from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Many WeChat users in Macau have decided to switch to alternative messaging applications after the announcement of more stringent regulations over WeChat users. But users had found difficulties to register or to connect on Telegram – a more encrypted and free messaging service supported by a Russian entrepreneur – such condition is not found in other regions.
Business Daily had attempted to register at Telegram but was only successful after using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Other users also proclaimed that similar situations appeared and VPN is required even after users had registered and started using the application.
Business Daily had made an enquiry to the city’s Office of the Secretary for Security but the Office replied that the matter should be referred to relevant regulatory departments if it is related to internet matters. The Office did not reply which regulatory department should be responsible.
On the other hand, Business Daily could not reach Telegram given that no official contact details are given. with Bloomberg