The government is set to bring in a new law to combat doxxing, which typically involves releasing personal or private information online for malicious purposes. Some opposition figures and government critics such as former Democrat lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting have claimed it’s a move to placate the police, whose officers and their families were heavily targeted during the social unrest of 2019. Looking at the numbers, that may well be the case. However the real question is not whether the government is caving in to police demands, but whether better legal protection and tougher penalties are in the public interest. Again, looking at the figures, an amended law seems justified. After all, no one wants to be doxxed or see their loved ones targeted. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) said it had handled 5,560 doxxing cases between June 2019 and last month. It has referred more than 1,460 alleged breaches to police for investigation. It has also sent to the Department of Justice 59 cases which involved suspected violation of injunctions forbidding doxxing of police and judges. But more revealing is a statistical breakdown of the victims. Between June 2019 and September last year, the PCPD received 4,714 doxxing complaints. Of these, police and their family members made up 35 per cent of the victims, followed by members of the public who had supposedly voiced opposition or criticism against the government or police (31 per cent) and those who had expressed support for the government or police (30 per cent). Excluding the police, the figures show ordinary people are just as likely to be doxxed whether they support or are critical of the government and police. Of the 3,461 web links involving suspected doxxing which the PCPD has requested removal, social media and websites have complied in only 67 per cent of the cases from last year. What defines a patriot in today’s surreal Hong Kong? In November, a former Hong Kong telecoms worker, Chan King-hei, was jailed for two years after being found guilty of offences including doxxing the father of a police inspector during the unrest. But that was the first case of its kind, even though a convicted doxxer may theoretically face a maximum fine of HK$1 million and five years in prison. An amendment bill is expected to be submitted to the Legislative Council later this year. There is indeed a strong case for giving more power to the PCPD to compel online services to remove offending content, and investigate cases.