Complaint & Enquiry Cases
Notes on Complaint & Enquiry Cases related
to Personal Information Collection Statement (PICS)
Whether a government department can disclose personal data of objectors to an interested representative body for mediation purpose.
Q: We are a government department dealing with certain applications from members of the public in relation to which objections are sometimes received from interested third parties. In this connection, an interested representative body acts proactively by setting up a mediation group with a view to resolve objections to the applications. The representative body has enquired with us whether the identity of the objectors can be released to them so as to enable the mediation group to function effectively. The usual practice is that the objectors will write to us and state his grounds of objection in response to some public notices. Subsequently, we may arrange to have an interview with the objectors to discuss his objections. Due to the nature of the public notice, it is not practicable for us to advise the objectors on or before collecting the data that their data will be transferred to the representative body for mediation. The question is whether we could release the identities of the objectors to the representative body in light of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
A: It is our understanding that the original purpose of your collection of the objector's personal data (such as his identity, correspondence address, etc. ) is to follow up with his objections and to liaise with him pursuant to your official duties. Therefore, unless you have informed the objectors on or before your collection of their personal data, usually by way of a Personal Information Collection Statement, that their data will be passed or forwarded to the representative body, the proposed disclosure without the objectors' prior consent is likely be inconsistent with the requirement of Data Protection Principle 3 of the Ordinance. Further, it seems that it is possible for you to obtain such consent in your subsequent meetings or interviews with the objectors. Accordingly, we suggest that you should obtain prior consent from the objectors before disclosing their personal data to the representative body.
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