Hong Kong protesters eschew card payments as surveillance fears escalate

Hong Kong protesters eschew card payments as surveillance fears escalate


The most popular payment method in Hong Kong is no longer considered safe by many protesters.

As the recent protests over the extradition bill have escalated, people in Hong Kong have become more wary about using their Octopus cards out of fear of mainland government surveillance. Octopus cards are contactless stored-value cards used by 99% of the region’s population between 16 and 65, according to the issuer .

Validating those fears: The police in Hong Kong have reportedly begun asking restaurants in the Hong Kong International Airport for lists of Octopus card transactions, according to Apple Daily , a Hong Kong-based daily news publication. The transactions the authorities are reportedly demanding are those from August 13 and 14, when thousands of people protested inside the airport , grounding flights for two nights. Demonstrators hold signs during a protest at the Hong Kong International Airport. Octopus cards are tied to the Hong Kong subway system, but for months, people in Hong Kong have been forgoing their Octopus fare cards and instead purchasing single-ride tickets at the ticketing machines with cash. According to those in these ticketing queues, people are worried their card data could be used by police to press charges against them.

“We haven’t seen examples of digital payment networks being used for mass surveillance of protesters before,” said Brett Scott, a writer, speaker and campaigner focused on the inherent risks of cashless societies. “This is certainly going to show the potential of it.”

Kaydence Shum, who works in public relations in Hong […]