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2001-2002 Annual Report_22
Report on Activities - Privacy- Related Issues
Code of Practice
Under section 12(1) of the PD(P)O, the Privacy Commissioner may, for the purpose of providing practical guidance in respect of any of the requirements of the PD(P)O, including those of the data protection principles, approve and issue codes of practice. The preparation of such a code may be done by a particular sector or profession or by the Privacy Commissioner. Before approving a code of practice the Privacy Commissioner is required to consult such representative bodies of data users to which the code will apply and such other interested persons as he thinks fit.
Amendments to the Code of Practice on Consumer Credit Data
Following the consultation exercise conducted in May 2001, the Privacy Commissioner approved revisions to the Code of Practice on Consumer Credit Data on 8 February 2002. The revisions took effect on 1 March 2002.
The revised Code provides better protection to an individual's credit data and allows relaxation on certain data retention and disclosure requirements. The rationale adopted is that any relaxation would not go beyond that which is strictly necessary to promote better credit assessment. The revisions also alleviate certain operational difficulties encountered by the consumer credit industry. The revisions are in the following areas.
Draft Code of Practice on Monitoring and Personal Data Privacy at Work
On 8 March 2002, the PCPD issued a consultation document relating to a draft Code of Practice on Monitoring and Personal Data Privacy at Work. Organizations from both the public and private sector were invited to submit their comments on the draft provisions of the Code, as were members of the public. The primary purpose of the Code is to provide practical guidance to employers who engage in practices that monitor and record the activities and behaviour of employees at work. The provisions of the Code seek to strike a balance between the business interest of employers and the privacy interest of employees.
development of the Code was a considered
response to several factors. First, it was
a recommendation of the Privacy Sub-Committee
of the Law Reform Commission ("the
LRC") in its consultation paper entitled
"Civil Liability for Invasion of Privacy"
published in August 1999. The view adopted
by the LRC to support the recommendation
is that an employee's expectation of privacy
in his activities in the workplace had to
be balanced against the employer's need
to keep the workplace, and his employees'
activities, under surveillance for legitimate
Secondly, technological developments and reduced costs, notably of surveillance software, have made monitoring systems affordable to virtually all employers. The natural consequence of this is that employee monitoring has become more pervasive in Hong Kong and, some would argue, more invasive of the privacy of the individual at work.
Thirdly, the findings of the PCPD's 2001 Opinion Survey indicated that 63.6% of the 485 respondent organizations had installed at least one type of employee monitoring device. One in three had installed two or more devices. The findings also indicated that only 22.1% of organizations surveyed had notified employees of their practices by drafting and disseminating a written employee monitoring policy. When respondent organizations were asked if they would support PCPD efforts to develop a code of practice on monitoring, 77.6% were in agreement with this suggestion. Less than 10% were opposed to it.
Having given careful consideration to these factors, the PCPD decided to promulgate the draft Code that, at least initially, would cover the most common forms of monitoring found in Hong Kong. These involve practices that relate to E-mail monitoring, computer usage monitoring (including Internet access), telephone monitoring and CCTV/video monitoring. The consultation is expected to run until 7 June 2002.
Draft Code of Practice on the Protection of Customer Information for Fixed and Mobile Service Operators
January 2002, the PCPD participated in a
joint project with the Consumer Council,
the Independent Commission Against Corruption
and the Office of the Telecommunications
Authority to develop a draft code of practice
for fixed and mobile service operators.
The draft code is intended to be a voluntary
code that sets out good practices that relate
to the protection of customer information.
It is expected that the code will be issued
in June 2002 after consultation with the
fixed and mobile service industry.
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