Estate agent fined for breach of personal data privacy ordinance

December 31, 2015 12:34
A Hong Kong judge has reminded the public that personal data privacy issues should be taken seriously. Photos: HK Government,

A Hong Kong court has fined a property agent after he was accused of passing on an acquaintance's personal data to a financial planner without taking prior consent.

The agent, a man surnamed Leung, was ordered to pay a fine of HK$5,000 (US$645) for breaching the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

The case is significant as it marked the first time a person was convicted under the new rules that took effect in April 2013, Ming Pao Daily noted.

According to the court hearing, Leung met the plaintiff at a 2013 Christmas party and exchanged business cards as they had both studied in the same university.

Later Leung allegedly gave the plaintiff’s name and phone number to an AIA insurance group financial planner.

The financial planner, who bears the surname Tam, then called the plaintiff in a bid to sell some financial products.

Following a complaint, Leung was charged with "failing to specify purposes before giving away others' personal data".

Tam, meanwhile, was charged with "failing to specify purposes before using personal data for direct sales".

The magistrate said in his ruling that Leung was fined because his testimony was inconsistent when queried as to whether he had obtained in advance the plaintiff's consent to use the latter's personal data.

The plaintiff’s claim of having never given such consent was more deemed more credible, he said.

Meanwhile, the charge against Tam was dismissed as it was determined that the plaintiff had hung up the phone before the financial planner could begin her sales pitch.

While announcing the ruling, the magistrate reminded the public not to ignore the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

He also warned people that any personal data put online could remain there for good.

-- Contact us at [email protected]