Free speech, selective enforcement and opacity: Problems with the ‘dishonest use of computer’ offence

In 1999, a man named Tsun Shui-lun, a technical assistant at Queen Mary Hospital, retrieved the medical records of the then-Secretary for Justice, Elsie Leung, and proceeded to share them with his friends, family, and the media. He was subsequently found guilty of section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance, a charge which cameinto effect in 1993 and criminalises “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent.”  Almost two decades later in 2016, a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of the same charge – for posting erotic writing involving rape, even though the story had been marked as a “work of fiction.”