Feb 152013
 February 15, 2013  Posted by  Non-U.S.

The Bangkok Post reports:

Hong Kong said Friday it is investigating an online database containing the identity card numbers of over 1,100 residents, including some of the city’s tycoons, published to protest a proposed privacy law.

The database was compiled by corporate governance activist David Webb and includes the identity numbers of the two sons of Asia’s Richest man Li Ka-shing.

Mr Webb posted the database online to protest a proposed law which will restrict access to information on company directors, reports said.

“ID numbers should not be regarded as secrets,” said Webb’s database website, which said the information had been gathered from various online sources available to the public.

“They tell you virtually nothing about a person — they are identifiers, not personal data”, the website said referring to the identity card numbers.

However, the city’s privacy commission, which is investigating the database for “possible personal data breach”, said it could pose a risk to privacy.

“If ID card numbers coupled with other personal data such as names and home address fall into the wrong hands, the affected person could be at risk of identity fraud,” the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said in a statement.

Read more on Bangkok Post.

I admit that I’m somewhat confused by this case. What are ID card numbers used for there? And how does making corporate directors’ ID numbers help the press? Or conversely, how would not making them public hinder the press? I see no reason for anyone’s passport number to be publicly available, but if ID numbers would enable people to look up or aggregate other personal information, then I’m not sure why David Webb thinks it’s okay to make them publicly available.

What do you think?

Update: The Bangkok Post story was updated to reflect that the activist took the database down.

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