Congratulations to Communications Association of Hong Kong for its 25th anniversary! A dinner was held tonight after its AGM, and I had a chance to share my views on the communications industry with fellow guest Samson Tam.
In the past year, more and more people in Hong Kong from the political circles have been using Facebook -- from setting up their own personal account to make friends, to using the social networking platform to set up causes, invite people to join groups or come to events.
But in recent months, more and more cases of what I would call "reverse abuse" are observed. The victim of the most recent case is Albert Lai, Vice Chairman of the Civic Party, Chairman of The Professional Commons, and a possible candidate in the Legislative Council election later this year. He received an email on early Monday June 23 morning HKT, saying that his Facebook account has been "disabled for persistent misuse of the site."
That was it. No prior communications, warning or notifications, checking of facts, or telling the accused what he or she might have been alleged of doing that would have violated what rules. Surely it is understandable that in the users' terms Facebook must have "reserved" the final right to decide on things like this, and the users on signing up to the service would have "agreed" to these terms. But still, one would think that the users which are what a community like Facebook is building its value upon would enjoy more due process than this.
I understand Albert has not been doing much in his account recently -- posting a lot of messages to people or groups, poking a lot of people (or any), inviting a lot of new friends (he has under 1,000 friends). Coincidentally, his political party (Civic Party) just announced on the previous day (Sunday, June 22 2008) that it endorsed a number of people to run in the Legislative Council election, including Albert himself. To cut it short, Albert and I cannot think of any other reasons but political sabotage, although we cannot have access to the evidence (e.g. complaints made to Facebook) to prove it.
And this is not the first time something like this happening in Hong Kong, in our short "Facebook history." Raymond Wong Yuk-Man, famous media personality from the opposition League of Social Democrats, and also a possible candidate in the election this year, also had his Facebook account suspended about two months ago. Similar suspension also happened to the Facebook property of Christine Chan, a local university student who was controversial for her supported for Tibetan self-determination.
And in all of these cases, Facebook reinstated their accounts after several days' suspension, after the accused sent messages to Facebook administrators asking for restoration. Albert's account came back on June 25. Some added in their messages to Facebook that these possible complaints must have been part of a deliberate political smearing campaign.
There is a total lack of transparency in the whole process, and no one knows what investigations took place and under what criteria Facebook made their decisions to suspend and restore accounts. This is unfair to users, and indeed doesn't make Facebook itself look good. These suspension are reported in the local press frequently, and Facebook having no local presence would never have any response, and the impression made as always is that Facebook is being manipulated by organized smear complaints.
Facebook must establish itself to handle matters of these natures, even though understandably being in the U.S. they may not know what politics are going on in Hong Kong or elsewhere. But in a globalized world of Internet service provision, this is no longer an excuse. In particular for Hong Kong, knowing that we are entering an election in the coming months, Facebook is well-advised to take account of the political figures using it, tell them more clearly what they can or cannot do, and become more prudent when handling complaints made against these figures' accounts.
But, as a start, Facebook, give us someone to talk to first, please!
Industry Discussion on Platform for Real-Time Traffic Information and Dynamic Vehicle Navigation
A discussion meeting was held today to consult the industry on their views on the development of a platform for Real-Time Traffic Information and Dynamic Vehicle Navigation.
For a long time, Hong Kong has been faulted for not having commercially viable solutions for drivers and passengers alike for real-time traffic information, and for lacking also in dynamic routing and navigation data provision. However, the Government's Digital 21 Strategy has identified intelligent transport system (ITS) as a key focus area of digital citizen services to be developed.
Since I worked with industry colleagues two years ago to form a working group between members of HKITF and WTIA to push for more development in the ITS area, we have finally made some progress. A comprehensive review on the technology and service offerings in many countries was done and published, with the support of Hon Sin Chung-Kai's office.
Last year, with the support of OGCIO and Transport Department, a task force on real-time traffic information and dynamic navigation has been set up since last year to work out how a service platform can be established for Hong Kong, based on TD's Transport Information System, to be completed shortly within this year.
Will it be better to have the platform owned and operated by the Government, or by a neutral industry body? What about selecting a very small number of players to give them the rights to operate services, or allowing more open competition?
At the meeting today, I expressed my views that, first, the industry potentials are high, despite some people's concerns about the relatively low prices that consumers are likely to be willing to pay, according to some surveys. But the regional market is consolidating, and more vehicles from outside of Hong Kong will pass in and out, as more transport integration will become reality, including the bridge to Zhuhai. There are also innovative business opportunities by turning the normal user-pay model to a model that a public transport operator, or other merchants, would be willing to pay in bulk for users to access such information.
In the end, I hope the industry can provide more information to the Government to help them formulate their final position. If you have any views, or questions, on this matter, please let me know and I shall forward to the task group.
The IT Matters 2008 Forum was held today, and I was pleased to be one of the speakers, along with Mr Hubert Ng (CAHK), Prof David Cheung (HKU), Mr Jeremy Godfrey (GCIO), Hon Sin Chung-Kai, Dr Samson Tam (HKIE-ITD), and Prof KK Wei (CityU). In 2004, we started IT Matters in Hong Kong. This year, our Forum is aptly entitled "ICT Strategically Matters for Hong Kong -- The Way Forward" -- we have to form a strategic, forward-looking, long-term and committed view for ICT development in Hong Kong, with a sense of mission and leadership. I talked about four focus areas that I believe are critical for our future: eGovernment, security, infrastructure, and manpower development. By applying ICT to improve the quality of life of the people in Hong Kong, through strengthening our core infrastructure in a secured environment, and focusing on people development, this I believe will form a basic blueprint for an IT renewal in Hong Kong.
A group of Purdue University (my alma matar) faculty and researchers visited Hong Kong Science Park today and met with the chief executive and division heads of the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI). We were hosted by Dr Patrick Wang, Chairman of ASTRI, who is one of our most distinguished Purdue alumni in Hong Kong. The groups from both sides shared experience on technology transfer activities, including Purdue's experience with its successful Discovery Park, and discussed possible areas of collaboration. As the chairman of Purdue Club Hong Kong, I look forward to assisting in fostering exchange opportunities like this. In the evening, a group of alumni hosted a joyful dinner gathering with the visitors.
Tonight at Web Wednesday, I met Tom Stader of The Library Project, which donates books and libraries to under financed schools and orphanages in China. According to them, "Education is Change." When the host of Web Wednesday Napolean Biggs asked Tom why he was doing it, Tom said, "When you know you can make a difference, you have to." Take a look at The Library Project, and do what you can to help.
Public Forum: Hong Kong -- An Unsafe Place to Surf? (Sat 2008.06.14)
Hong Kong – an Unsafe Place to Surf?
In a recent report “Mapping the Mal Web Revisited" by McAfee, the “.hk” domain is rated the most high risk domain for web surfing. The report has aroused much attention on the trust and confidence of Hong Kong as an international business hub and financial centre.
Is the report really reflecting problems that Hong Kong needs to deal with? What are they and how can we deal with them? How can we benchmark the performance in information security assurance of Hong Kong? We have organized a public forum and have invited industry professionals to jointly discuss this topic.
Date: 14 June 2008 (Sat) Time: 2:15pm – 5:00pm (2:15pm-2:30pm Registration) Venue: Room 202, Duke of Windsor Social Service Building, 15 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong Language: Cantonese Participants: First-come-first -served and Free-of-charge
Moderator: Charles Mok (ISOC-HK) Panellists :
Mr. Leo Chan (information security industry)
Mr. Jonathan Shea (HKDNR)
Mr. Roy Ko (HKCERT)
Mr. York Mok (HKISPA)
Mr. Howard Lau (PISA)
Mr. SC Leung (IT Voice)
Registration & Enquiry: Email to email@example.com with the following information.
Name: Organisation: Company Name: Contact Email: Contact Phone #:
Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
If I have to choose my most admired politician, then RFK is the one. To me, to this date, he remains the symbol of decency, courage and compassion. But, of course, when he left our world, I was not even four years old. I mostly learned when I could about him when I was in college and read Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s "Robert Kennedy and His Times."
My favorite of RFK quotes: "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not."