Aug 282009
 August 28, 2009  Posted by  Govt, Laws, Non-U.S.

From the government of Hong Kong:

The Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Bureau has launched a three-month public consultation on the review of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to gauge views on proposals to amend the law.

Secretary for Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam said today there is a need to examine whether the law still gives adequate protection to personal data given developments, including technological advancement and communication via the Internet, in the last decade.

The Government’s principles in conducting the review include the right of people to privacy, which must be balanced against other rights and public and social interests. Balance is also needed between safeguarding privacy and facilitating continued development of information and communications technology.

Any changes to the privacy law, he said, should not undermine Hong Kong’s competitiveness and economic efficiency, and it is necessary to avoid putting an onerous burden on business operations and individual data users.

Fundamental considerations

Noting the bureau has four fundamental considerations in dealing with the proposals, Mr Lam said ideas enhancing privacy protection will be pursued positively.

“For example, we have proposed to empower the Privacy Commissioner to assist aggrieved data subjects who would like to seek compensation and to take their cases to court. We will consider providing [the commissioner] with the necessary resources to do so.”

The Government will also examine proposals which are necessitated by technological improvements to keep the law abreast of latest developments and whether the city should afford special extra protection to sensitive personal data, such as biometric information.

Mr Lam said proposals with far-reaching implications for the operation of certain sectors of the community will be assessed prudently. Saying there should be checks and balances in the regulatory regime, he said the Government has reservations in giving the commissioner powers extending across investigation, prosecution and adjudication as these are segregated among different institutions in the common law system.

Planned proposals

The consultation document has listed 12 major proposals concerning sensitive personal data, data security, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data’s enforcement powers, and offences and sanctions.

There are 15 other proposals which have considerable impact on the community. They include data users’ rights and obligations, rights of data subjects such as a third party giving consent to personal data use or parents’ right to access a minors’ personal data, and introducing new exemptions on transferring personal data in business mergers or acquisitions on health grounds or during emergencies.

Another 16 proposals mainly cover the technical and operational problems in the implementation of the privacy law and streamlining its operation.

Click here for the document. The public should submit views by November 30 by mailing to Team 4, Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Bureau, Room 364, East Wing, Central Government Offices, Lower Albert Road, Hong Kong, or by sending a fax to 2523 0565, or an email.

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