YouTube complies with Hong Kong order blocking access to protest song
text size

YouTube complies with Hong Kong order blocking access to protest song

BEIJING - US-based video-streaming giant YouTube has complied with a Hong Kong court order banning a popular protest anthem by blocking access to 32 clips within the city, but other versions are still available.

The US social media site's move followed calls from the city's justice minister on Sunday for parent company Google to "keep its word" from past discussions and remove links to "Glory to Hong Kong"- considered the unofficial anthem of the 2019 anti-government protests.

"We are disappointed by the court's decision but are complying with its removal order by blocking access to the listed videos for viewers in Hong Kong," a YouTube spokesman said on Wednesday.

"We'll continue to consider our options for an appeal, to promote access to information."

The company said 32 video links were identified as prohibited publications under the government-sought injunction banning the song, with the corresponding videos blocked in Hong Kong.

These videos are no longer available for YouTube users in Hong Kong and Google's search engine also no longer displays these clips in the city.

The Court of Appeal ruled earlier in favour of the government by granting an interim injunction it sought last year over the song, which has frequently been mistaken overseas for the national anthem.

The injunction bans people from "broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing [the song] in any way" with the intention to incite others to separate Hong Kong from the rest of the country, commit a seditious act or insult the national anthem, "March of the Volunteers".

It also prohibits anyone from playing the song in a manner likely to cause it "to be mistaken as the national anthem insofar as [Hong Kong] is concerned" or suggest the city "is an independent state and has a national anthem of her own".

YouTube said the process to take down the song could take time, as its systems would need to recrawl the web.

It also noted the company's mission was to give everyone a voice, adding that it shared the concerns of human rights organisations that the ban would have a "chilling effect" on free expression around the world.

A YouTube search using the term "Glory to Hong Kong" returned several results for the protest anthem on Wednesday, however, not all the video clips listed could be played.

Users who click on certain YouTube videos will be greeted with a black screen covering the clip and a statement informing viewers it is unavailable because of a court order. However, some clips featuring the song can still be played.

Do you like the content of this article?