Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 14608622
Project Title(English) : The Use of Non-Criminal Laws to Combat Hurtful Digital Communications in Hong Kong  
Project Title(Chinese) : 侵害性電子信息在香港的非刑事規制 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof Hargreaves, Stuart Andrew 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : N/A 
Department : Faculty of Law
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Prof Witzleb, Normann
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2022 / 23
Fund Approved : 442,703
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 30-6-2025
Abstract as per original application
Online harassment, cyber-bullying, doxxing, intimate image abuse and other abusive digital conduct cause significant harm to individuals and society. Legal regulation in Hong Kong has long failed to respond adequately to these forms of ‘hurtful digital communications’ (HDC). The Government is now partially addressing these shortcomings through the introduction of new criminal offences. Yet while criminal law has an important role to deter seriously harmful behaviour, it focuses on the perpetrator rather than the victim, and on punishment rather than prevention, restoration and compensation. This research project adopts a victim-centred approach, and so asks how the civil and administrative law of Hong Kong can be reformed to supplement the criminal law and provide victims of HDC more effective forms of redress. The research project will systematically identify and map different types of hurtful digital behaviours as they typically occur in Hong Kong, and consider the effectiveness of the current model of regulation. After reviewing comparator jurisdictions, the project will propose a comprehensive and integrated approach to the regulation of HDC in Hong Kong beyond criminal prohibition. It will proceed in three stages. The first stage will use empirical research to establish a typology of HDC in Hong Kong as well as seek stakeholder views on appropriate legal responses. It also involves a stock take of current methods of regulation, both at common law and in legislation, in Hong Kong. This stage will generate a new framework that describes the continuum of hurtful digital behaviours as they occur in practice and identifies gaps in the current system. It ensures that our project speaks to practical local experiences, rather than assuming evidence gathered elsewhere reflects the situation in Hong Kong. The second stage will be doctrinal legal research into overseas laws and practices. It compares the laws of Hong Kong with the relevant regulatory approaches adopted or considered in selected other jurisdictions. The laws encompassed are civil causes of action against harassment, privacy invasion and other intentional wrongs, as well as administrative schemes directed at harmful digital content, including ‘take-down’ requirements for intermediaries and end-users, as well as data protection laws. In the third stage, a comprehensive set of non-criminal legal reforms will be developed and proposed for Hong Kong. These proposed reforms will seek to reduce the problem of HDC and enhance victim protection and empowerment, whilst also being conscious that any attempts to regulate online activity will necessarily implicate other important values including free expression.
網絡空間中的不當行為,如網絡騷擾、霸凌、“起底”個人隱私,以及私密影像的濫用等都對個人和社會造成嚴重損害。在香港,法律手段尚不能有效應對這些“侵害性電子信息” (hurtful digital communications)。政府正試圖通過將該等行為列入新的刑事犯罪等方式儘可能地彌補現有的法律漏洞。然後,儘管刑事法律規定在遏制相關侵害行為上具有重要作用,但刑事規定本身更加注重懲戒而非預防,更加關注加害者而非受害人,從而忽略了對損害結果的補救和賠償。本研究側重受害人視角,重點討論如何對現有的香港民事和行政法律規範進行改進,以便給受有害電子信息侵擾的一方提供更多有效的救濟途徑,以彌補當前刑事法律規制的不足。 本研究計畫系統性地根據香港社會中較為普遍的網絡侵害行為加以分類,從而進一步評價香港社會現有法律制度的規制效果。本研究將通過對其他法域的比較,共分三個階段,全面、綜合地就刑事措施以外的規制手段給出建議。 第一階段將通過實證研究,結合各利益相關群體對合理措施的意見,對香港社會中存在的侵害性電子信息進行分類討論。同時亦將分別從普通法和成文法的視角,對香港現有的法律規範進行梳理。這一階段將試圖从理論層面對實踐中普遍存在的網絡侵害行為進行描述並指出現行制度的不足。本研究將特別注重面向香港本土社會生活實踐,而非一味假定來自其他地方的經驗能夠反映香港的社會現實。 本研究第二階段將採用法教義學方法研究域外法及其相關實踐。通過有選擇地比較香港和其他一些地方的法律制度,將對包括網絡騷擾、侵犯隱私權等故意侵權行為在內的民事訴由,以及行政規制下的各類保護措施(如要求網絡中介服務商和終端用戶刪除有害信息,以及數據保護的相關法律規定等)進行梳理。 第三階段將針對香港提出修訂非刑事規制措施的全面意見。這些建議將試圖在減輕侵害性電子信息帶來的危害的同時,更加注重受害者一方的保護和權益平衡,同時還會充分考慮對包括言論自由等其他網絡空間重要價值的潛在影響。
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