PCPD warns firms against collecting employees' fingerprint data

July 21, 2015 18:40
Commissioner Allan Chiang said many companies fail to consider the privacy risks of collecting employees’ fingerprint data. Photo: RTHK

Allan Chiang Yam-wang, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, said many companies use fingerprint recognition devices as they are cheap and convenient, but they fail to consider the privacy risks such devices might pose.

Chiang said that given the uniqueness and immutability of fingerprints, such data should be collected and used only if there is sufficient reason.

He said it is unnecessary for companies to use fingerprint recognition devices if they have already installed CCTV cameras or digital locks.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) criticized Queenix (Asia) Limited, a fashion trading company, for collecting employees’ fingerprint data to enhance office security and monitor staff attendance, overlooking the potential risk of such private data being leaked.

The PCPD also found that at least 42 employers had placed blind recruitment advertisements, where the employer or the employment agency acting on its behalf is not identified, for the purpose of collecting personal data from job applicants.

However, there is no evidence that the companies involved have misused the data they collected.

Since last year, the PCPD has received 300 inquiries about fingerprint collection and nine complaints against companies collecting employees’ fingerprint data.

It has issued an enforcement notice to Queenix (Asia) Limited, ordering the company to destroy all fingerprint data of past and current employees and to stop collecting any fingerprint data, Chiang said.

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EJ Insight intern reporter