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Media Statements

Media Statements

Date: 14 May 2012

Privacy Commissioner Revised Guidance on Collection of Fingerprint Data

1. The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Mr. Allan Chiang published today (14 May) revised “Guidance on Collection of Fingerprint Data” (“the Guidance Note”) to provide data users who intend to collect fingerprint data with practical guidance on compliance with the requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (“the Ordinance”). The Guidance Note was first published in 2007.

2. Mr. Allan Chiang said, “Collection of fingerprints has long been associated with the investigation of crime. Lowered costs and easy-to-use technologies have recently brought fingerprint scanners into widespread use for other purposes such as recording attendance and access to specific facilities. Given the uniqueness and the immutability of fingerprint data, the growing popularity of fingerprint scanners has raised privacy concerns as to the gravity of the harm that may be caused to the individuals if such data are handled improperly. In view of this, our Office has revised this Guidance Note to provide data users who intend to collect fingerprint data with clear and detailed practical guidance for compliance with the requirements under the Ordinance.”

3. In revising the Guidance Note, the views adopted by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (“PCPD”) in handling relevant complaints and enquiries have been consolidated and taken into account. The revised Guidance Note covers the following topics:

- Why are fingerprint data personal data?
- Whether or not fingerprint data (being personal data) should be collected?
- What are the principal requirements under the Ordinance on collection of fingerprint data?
- What is a privacy impact assessment and what needs to be considered in conducting the assessment?
- What should be considered in ensuring that the individuals have free and informed choice and can make a conscious decision on whether or not to supply the fingerprint data?
- Matters to be attended to, after having decided to collect the fingerprint data.

4. The Guidance Note can be downloaded from the website of the PCPD (( or obtained from its office at 12/F., Sunlight Tower, 248 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.