Press Releases in Hong Kong

Govt opposes misleading report on privacy law amendments

This photo dated Oct 28, 2014 shows the Central Government Offices at Tamar, Hong Kong. (PHOTO/HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government said it strongly opposed an overseas media report regarding the city’s privacy law amendments, saying that the report was misleading and took matters out of context.

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau made the statement late Tuesday in response to the Monday report that alleged a number of internet companies had expressed concerns over the Hong Kong government's proposed amendments to the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

The government proposed in May amending the ordinance in a bid to effectively regulate doxxing-related acts. In the statement, the bureau said the government has taken reference to laws in other legal jurisdictions to seek a reasonably practicable amendment.

The government spokesman strongly opposed to the reports that took matters out of context to mislead and confuse the public.

Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau

According to the overseas media report, some companies had written to the Hong Kong government and warned that they might refrain from offering their services in Hong Kong to avoid holding their subsidiary employees liable for content generated by their users.

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In the statement, the bureau acknowledged that the Asia Internet Coalition had earlier written to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data to express its views on the proposed amendments to the ordinance.

The bureau noted that while the coalition has uploaded the letter to their website, the letter made no mention of the stance of individual company members nor are there companies planning to retreat from Hong Kong. The issue has also been clarified by the coalition, the bureau said.

“The government spokesman strongly opposed to the reports that took matters out of context to mislead and confuse the public,” the bureau said.

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Doxxing acts intruding into personal data privacy have been rampant in society in recent years and the public has strongly requested the criminalization of doxxing and stepping up enforcement by the bureau, it said.

Based on investigation and prosecution experience in handling past doxxing cases, the bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data will propose amendments to the ordinance to effectively handle doxxing-related acts, it added.

“In the process, the bureau has referred to relevant laws in other legal jurisdictions to propose legislative amendment proposals on areas such as the definition of a doxxing offence, penalties, evidential threshold, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data's statutory criminal investigation and prosecution powers,” it said.

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The bureau reiterated that the legislative amendments only concern doxxing acts and the commissioner's law-enforcement powers.

“The scope of the doxxing offence is clear, focused and target-specific and has achieved the right balance between protecting privacy and freedom of speech,” according to the statement.

It aims to submit the amendment bill to the Legislative Council within this legislative year.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has arranged a meeting with the coalition to understand their concerns over the proposed legal amendments, the bureau added.