YouTube to Block Hong Kong Protest Anthem Videos Following Court Order.

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Some observers, including the U.S. government, say the ban will further undermine Hong Kong's international reputation as a financial hub, and raise concerns about the erosion of freedoms and its commitment to the free flow of information.

Alphabet's (GOOGL.O), YouTube on Tuesday said it would comply with a court decision and block access inside Hong Kong to 32 video links deemed prohibited content, in what critics say is a blow to freedoms in the financial hub amid a security clampdown.

The action follows a government application granted by Hong Kong's Court of Appeal requesting the ban of a protest anthem called "Glory to Hong Kong." The judges warned that dissidents seeking to incite secession could weaponize the song for use against the state.

In comments criticizing the court order, YouTube said the ruling would raise skepticism around the Hong Kong government's work to foster the digital economy and reclaim its reputation as a predictable place for doing business.

"We are disappointed by the Court's decision but are complying with its removal order," YouTube said in a statement, saying it shared human rights groups' concerns that the content ban could chill free expression online. "We'll continue to consider our options for an appeal, to promote access to information."

Some observers, including the U.S. government, say the ban will further undermine Hong Kong's international reputation as a financial hub, and raise concerns about the erosion of freedoms and its commitment to the free flow of information.

"It is not a desirable situation from the perspective of free internet and free speech," said George Chen, co-chair of digital practice at the Asia Group, a Washington DC-based business policy consultancy. He is also former head of public policy for Greater China at Meta.

Industry groups, including the Asia Internet Coalition, which represents big tech firms like Meta, Apple and Google, have said keeping a free and open internet in Hong Kong is "fundamental" to maintaining the city's edge.

The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The action is not a worldwide first for the U.S. technology sector or Google parent Alphabet, which has restricted items when legally required to do so. In China, it has removed content.