Information Centre

Media Statement


Date: 11 January 2012

Privacy Commissioner Published Guidance on Personal Data Erasure and Anonymisation

1.   The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data ("the Commissioner") Mr. Allan Chiang published a Guidance Note, titled "Guidance on Personal Data Erasure and Anonymisation" ("the Guidance Note") to provide advice to organizational data users on how to erase personal data properly by means of digital deletion and/or physical destruction.

2.   Mr. Chiang said, "It is important for organizations to manage personal data throughout its life cycle from data collection to data destruction. Most organizations collect, use and store personal data. Not all of them do a good job of determining the appropriate duration of retention of the data with due regard to the purpose of data collection, and destroying it at the end of its useful life. Keeping personal data longer than is necessary will aggravate the risk and increase the cost of safeguarding the personal data against unauthorized access or other use. Also, the potential for significant damage to the organization and irreversible harm to the individual in the event of insecure and/or ineffective destruction of data is simply too great to be dismissed. Against this background, the Guidance Note is issued to guide organizations in meeting legal requirements and following best practices of personal data erasure."

3.   The Guidance Note covers the following topics:-

- Legal requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance
- Rigorous corporate policies, principles, technical standards, tools and measures to ensure privacy and data protection
- Risks associated with recycling of data print-outs and re-deployment of computer equipment
- Outsourcing data erasure work to contractors
- Top management involvement and staff engagement

4.   This Guidance Note also introduces the alternative of anonymisation, which de-identifies personal data to the extent that it is no longer practicable to identify individuals directly or indirectly, in which case the data would not fall under the regulation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

5.   The Guidance Note can be downloaded from the website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data ( or obtained from its office at 12/F., 248 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.


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