July 20 (UPI) -- South Korea's most popular search engine has shut down its servers in Hong Kong, following the passage of the Hong Kong national security law.
Naver, Korea's most popular search engine by share of all searches, said Monday it has destroyed its Hong Kong-based backed up data, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo and Hankook Ilbo reported.
Naver physically destroyed the saved data from July 6 to 10, or a week after the controversial Hong Kong security law went into effect. The new law can punish people with imprisonment if they advocate for secession.
The South Korean firm said all data previously handled in Hong Kong was transferred to Singapore. A representative of the company said Naver had taken a "comprehensive assessment of the situation at overseas data centers" to arrive at the decision, according to the Hankook Ilbo.
Naver began using Hong Kong as a hub for backed up data in October 2016. The company said Monday those data transfers occurred with the use of virtual private networks, or VPNs, and that the data was kept encrypted in accordance with data protection regulations.
The company also denied allegations the Chinese government requested access to private user data. Personal information in backed up data is protected under encryption, according to Naver.
"There's no possibility at all a third party could get hold of the data," the firm said.
Not all South Korean platforms keep backed up data outside the country. Kakao, the country's No. 1 messaging app, keeps all data domestically, according to reports.
U.S. firms are also slowly shutting down servers over security law concerns.
CNBC reported Friday U.S.-based companies IPVanish and Private Internet Access are to deactivate their Hong Kong servers.
IP Vanish said the firm is committed to protecting its users.
"The new law places the region, once a stronghold of online freedom, behind the same tight Internet restrictions that govern mainland China. With this legislative change, we, unfortunately, have to consider Hong Kong and China as one."