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EXCLUSIVE: CEO shares personal threats to shut down Hong Kong Watch

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UK based human rights group, Hong Kong Watch, is being urged by Hong Kong authorities to shut down its website after being accused of breaching China’s National Security law

“This is Beijing, really reaching out well beyond its borders to threaten our basic freedoms in the democratic world.”

CEO of Hong Kong Watch, Benedict Rogers, says that they will not remain silent. Despite threats of jail time.

While China heavily restricts the internet on the mainland, Hong Kong does not usually censor the web which allows its residents to access sites that might be critical of Beijing.

Over a month ago, the group realised that their website was blocked. Just two weeks ago Rogers says he received a letter from the Hong Kong Police followed by an email from the Hong Kong National Security Bureau, announcing that the Hong Kong Watch poses “a serious threat” to China’s National Security.

“It demanded we take it [the website] down within 72 hours of receipt of the letters and failure to comply could result in me facing a very heavy fine of HK $100,000 and a potential jail term,”

he tells ticker news.

How is this law justified?

According to Rogers, the Chinese government justifies it under the Draconian National Security Law which includes an extraterrestrial clause that was imposed on Hong Kong two years ago.

“[It] basically says, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Hong Kong or a resident of Hong Kong. You can be anywhere in the world and be in violation of their National Security Law, so they’re using that against us,” he says.

Hong Kong Watch is the first advocacy group to be targeted by this law.

Even though Benedict Rogers and his family have received many threatening letters over the past few years, the group has made it clear that they will not be silenced by the Hong Kong government.

“We’re certainly not going to comply,” he says, “We’re very grateful that British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, made a very strong statement.”

Truss said the Chinese Government and Hong Kong authorities must respect the universal right to freedom of speech, and uphold that right in Hong Kong in accordance with international commitments, including the Joint Declaration.

“Attempting to silence voices globally that speak up for freedom and democracy is unacceptable and will never succeed,”

she said.

The Chinese Government and Hong Kong authorities must respect the universal right to freedom of speech, and uphold that right in Hong Kong in accordance with international commitments, including the Joint Declaration.

Other governments including, Australia, Canada and others have also spoken up for the group.

Why does Beijing want to shut down Hong Kong Watch?

Rogers says one factor could be that the Hong Kong Watch was at the forefront of an effort in the United Kingdom to lobby for the British government to introduce its British National Overseas scheme for Hong Kong.

“We’ve [also] been very much at the forefront of calls for sanctions against Beijing and the Hong Kong government for dismantling Hong Kong’s freedoms. And that’s clearly a red line in their mind under the National Security Law,”

he says.

Currently, Australian journalist Cheng Lei is on trial behind closed doors in China for spy charges and there are concerns for her wellbeing.

Cheng was working for the Chinese state media CGTN and she’s being accused of supplying state secrets, Rogers says this is extremely concerning.

“It’s yet another example of China, not just threatening but arresting and imprisoning not only their own citizens but foreign nationals … Australia has really stood up to China, but the rest of the democratic world needs to do the same and we need to coordinate better our responses to Beijing’s increasing aggression,” he said.

Savannah Pocock contributed to this report.

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Media

BuzzFeed to use ChatGPT-created content on website

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BuzzFeed is set to go by on A.I-generated content, with the company to use ChatGPT to create content for the site

The media giant plans to use the service to generate quizzes and further personalise its user experience.

“If the past 15 years of the internet have been defined by algorithmic feeds that curate and recommend content, the next 15 years will be defined by AI and data helping create, personalise and animate the content itself,” BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti recently said.

BuzzFeed recently announced that it would be cutting 12 per cent of its workforce to rein in costs.

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The Academy Award nominations have been revealed

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The film industry’s most prestigious night of nights is almost here, and the nominations have been revealed

The indie sci-fi comedy drama, “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, scored the most Academy Award nominations, with 11 in total.

It was closely followed by “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

Not far behind were fan favourites including “Elvis”, “Top Gun: Maverick”, and the recent “Black Panther” and “Avatar” films.

Streaming services have not had as strong a year, with Netflix’s “All Quiet On The Western Front” the only nominee from a streaming service in the top category.

There has been an extremely strong showing for Irish talent this year. “The Quiet Girl” is recognised in the best international feature category.

Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, Paul Mescal are all in contention for Best Actor and Austin Butler scored his first ever Oscars nomination for his role as Elvis Presley.

And when it comes to Best Actress Cate Blanchett, Andrea Riseborough and Michelle Williams are leading the pack alongside Ana de Armas, who has been nominated for the first time.

Indian action epic “RRR” stands a strong chance of beating Rihanna and Lady Gaga to best original song.

The catchy Naatu Naatu has already won the Golden Globe, and is very likely to repeat its success at the Oscars.

The event all happens on March 12, when you can find out which stars will be taking home the iconic gold Oscar statuette.

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Business

Say goodbye to sharing Netflix with your friends

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Netflix announces new tech to stop password sharing

The days of sharing a Netflix account with your friends are quickly coming to an end.

The streaming giant is set to introduce new tech which will prevent multiple households leeching off one subscription.

Execs believe around 100 million homes engage in the practice, which the company says “undermines” its ability to invest and improve content.

It’s been a rough 12 months for Netflix.

Last year, the company recorded it first subscriber loss in more than a decade.

While no exact date has been set for the worldwide rollout of the new policy, it could begin as early as March.

Users will be required to have their own account and login, unless you live in the same household as someone who has an account.

It follows a number of trials and introductions Netflix made throughout 2022.

“While our terms of use limit use of Netflix to a household, we recognise this is a change for members who share their account more broadly,” Netflix said.

“So we’ve worked hard to build additional new features that improve the Netflix experience, including the ability for members to review which devices are using their account and to transfer a profile to a new account.”

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