|Personal Data Protection and Promotional Telephone Calls
The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Mr. Roderick Woo, is
concerned about the increasingly negative sentiments held by the public
regarding promotional telephone calls.
2. “Promotional telephone calls are considered as an
invasion of the individual’s privacy. As a regulator, my Office
is committed to the protection of personal data privacy under the
provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance("the
Ordinance"). I support the measures taken by the Office of the
Telecommunications Authority to tackle the problem from a different
perspective whether any personal data is involved or not,” Mr. Woo said.
3. The use of personal data in direct marketing by
means of mail, electronic mail, facsimile transmission, or phone calls
is governed specifically by section 34 of the Ordinance, which
provides that a data user using personal data for direct marketing
purposes for the first time should inform the data subject that the
latter has the right to ask the data user to cease using his personal
data for such purposes i.e. to offer an “opt-out” choice. If the
individual makes such a request, the data user shall cease to so use
the data without charge to the individual.
4. In December 2005, a financial institution was
convicted of breaching section 34 of the Ordinance and fined
$5,000. Data users should realize that personal data privacy
rights are to be respected. Compliance with the requirements of
the Ordinance, particularly section 34, is a legal obligation for data
users engaged in the direct marketing business.
5. Members of the public are encouraged to lodge a
complaint with the Office if they consider that their personal data has
been misused. In the past 12 months, the Office received 91
complaints in respect of direct marketing. Half of those
complaints involved data users in the finance and telecommunications
sectors. After investigation this Office issued warning notices
in 15 of these cases. 5 other cases have been referred to the
Police for prosecution.
6. To provide data users with practical guidance in complying
with the provisions of the Ordinance, the Office has issued a fact
sheet on “Guidelines on Cold-Calling”. Data users are reminded of
their legal duty to provide an opt-out message when carrying out direct
marketing activities. Data users are also urged to keep a list of
all individuals who have made the opt-out choice, and to respect the
wishes of the data subject. For further details, please visit the
Office’s website http://www.pcpd.org.hk.