Date
18 November 2017
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam blamed the loss of the computers on the lack of awareness of workflow and personal data protection among the REO staff. Photo: HKEJ
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam blamed the loss of the computers on the lack of awareness of workflow and personal data protection among the REO staff. Photo: HKEJ

Some REO staff may be disciplined over theft of computers: Tam

The loss of two laptop computers containing information on some 1,200 Election Committee members and 3.78 million registered voters in late March suggested those who were directly involved in it could face disciplinary action, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Tam once again apologized to the public for what had happened, saying it is obvious that some people working for the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) are required to take administrative responsibility for the incident, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Tam blamed the loss on insufficient coordination within the REO organization, and the lack of awareness of workflow and personal data protection among its frontline workers and middle management.

Investigation showed that on March 24, REO staff put the two laptops in a room at AsiaWorld-Expo, which was designated as a fallback venue for the March 26 chief executive election. The computers were reported missing at around noon of March 27.

One of the laptops contains the names of the 1,194 Election Committee members with no other personal information while the other contains the names, addresses and Hong Kong Identity Card numbers of electors as well as the districts and constituencies they belong to, according to the REO.

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau formed a task force soon afterwards to investigate the incident. The bureau released a report of the task force on its website on Tuesday.

The task force said the way the REO managed the laptops was questionable as the controlling officer for personal data was not consulted on the transfer of such data among divisions while staffers could apply to access database containing personal information without providing justified reasons.

In light of the fact the REO failed to strictly follow the guidelines set by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the report made a total of 18 suggestions for the REO to improve its operations.

Tam said REO staffers who did not abide by the guidelines and caused the incident may get negative comments in their performance appraisals or even be subject to disciplinary action, adding that he would not want to speculate anything at the moment as the Civil Service Bureau will be in charge.

The Secretary for the Civil Service of the incoming administration, which will officially begin functioning on July 1, will have to tell the Legislative Council whether disciplinary action for some people is called for, Tam added.

With regard to the police investigation into the incident, Tam said progress has been hindered because the room where they were taken is not equipped with security cameras.

He stressed, however, that there is no evidence showing personal data in the computers has been leaked.

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

TL/AC/CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe