Date
24 May 2017
Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong said more people are becoming aware of the need to protect the privacy of their personal data. Photo: RTHK, HKEJ
Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong said more people are becoming aware of the need to protect the privacy of their personal data. Photo: RTHK, HKEJ

Personal data breach complaints hit record high

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) received 1,971 complaints last year, a record high, with more than a hundred cases involving disclosure or leakage of personal data and cyberbullying.

Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong Kai-yi said the huge number of complaints, up 16 percent from 2014, indicates that people are becoming more aware of the need to protect the privacy of their personal data, and he expects the number of cases to keep rising in the future, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.

Most of the cases involved the unauthorized use of personal data. 

Privacy complaints relating to information and communications technology rose to 241 cases, while those related to to the District Council elections last November totalled 106.

The rise in the number of complaints doesn’t mean data breaches are getting worse, Wong said, adding that everyone should guard their personal data.

“After all, Hong Kong is one of the few places where commuters are reminded not to look only at their mobile phones,” he said.

Wong said one key issue that his office is studying is how to balance internet freedom and personal privacy.

Vanessa Wu Mei-lai, chief personal data officer, said if people discover that their personal data has been disclosed publicly without their consent, all they need to do is to present proof of the information breach.

People behind the breach could be fined under the law, aside from being required to delete the data from their files.

However, if the data is disclosed by friends, the dispute can be settled through mediation, Wu said.

Meanwhile, the PCPD urged the local travel industry to standardize its data collection practices.

It noted that customers are asked to provide their Hong Kong identity card number when joining a tour online while they are not required to do so when they make the transaction at a brick-and-mortar outlet.

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BT/JP/CG

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