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Case Notes

Case Notes

This case related to DPP1 - Purpose and manner of collection of personal data

Case No.:2020E01

Whether employers could install Closed Circuit TV Systems (CCTV) at home to monitor domestic helpers.

The Enquiry

Enquired whether employers can install CCTV at home to monitor domestic helpers.

Relevant Provisions of the Ordinance

Collection of Personal Data

Data Protection Principle (DPP) 1(1) of Schedule 1 to the Ordinance stipulates that personal data shall be collected for a lawful purpose directly related to a function or activity of the data user; the collection of the data is necessary for or directly related to that purpose; and the data is adequate but not excessive in relation to that purpose. Under DPP1(2), personal data shall be collected by means which are lawful and fair in the circumstances of the case.

Moreover, DPP1(3) states that when a data user collects personal data from a data subject, all practicable steps shall be taken to ensure that he is informed, on or before collecting the data, of whether it is obligatory or voluntary for him to supply the data and the consequences for him if he fails to supply the data; and the purpose for which the data is to be used and the classes of persons to whom the data may be transferred.

Our Response

If an employer conducts video monitoring on a domestic helper’s work, this constitutes collection of the domestic helper’s personal data. In such circumstances, the employer as a data user under the Ordinance must comply with the requirements of the Ordinance, including DPP1 upon collection of personal data.

Before monitoring domestic helper’s work, employers should make reference to the PCPD’s leaflet, “Monitoring and Persona Data Privacy at Work: Points to Note for Employers of Domestic Helpers”. The indiscriminate use of video cameras at home to monitor a domestic helper’s activities is by its nature an intrusion upon privacy.  An employer must seriously consider whether it is indeed necessary to undertake such monitoring before embarking upon such an exercise.  For an employer who has, after considering all factors, nevertheless resolved to undertake video monitoring at home, he should consider the “reasonableness” of the manner in which the monitoring is carried out, the “openness” by which his domestic helper is informed about it and the proper handling of the resultant video records.  In principle, no cameras, whether hidden or not, should capture images showing activities inside a toilet, bathroom or the private area where a domestic helper rests after work. Where an employer intends to undertake video monitoring, it is important that his domestic helper is informed of the presence of any video monitoring system in the premises where she works.

Moreover, employers should implement employee monitoring policies by explicitly stating the management of personal data obtained from employee monitoring and purposes for which personal data obtained from monitoring records may be used, and communicating the policies to the affected domestic helpers. As good practices, employers should inform their domestic helpers of the monitoring equipment (e.g. location of the equipment, retention period of the monitoring records, measures for safeguarding the data, etc.).

(Uploaded in September 2020)

Category : Provisions/DPPs/COPs/Guidelines : Topic/Subject Matter :