(2 April 2013) The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Mr. Allan Chiang notes with disappointment the Administration's notification on 28 March 2013 that the new arrangement for the inspection of company directors’ personal information on the Companies Register under the new Companies Ordinance will be held in abeyance1.The Privacy Commissioner urges the Administration to pledge a timetable for enacting the subsidiary legislation for the new arrangement.
"This is a retrograde step in enhancing the protection of personal data in Hong Kong as it in effect postpones indefinitely the implementation of the relevant provisions of the new Companies Ordinance enacted on 10 August 2012. In other words, the existing unsatisfactory system of unfettered public access to company directors' residential address and full identification number will continue for an indefinite period of time," Mr. Chiang remarked.
"The Administration considers that it is necessary to focus the efforts of all parties concerned on other provisions of the new Companies Ordinance so that the legislation can commence in the first quarter of 2014 as scheduled, which is important for enhancing Hong Kong's competiveness as a major international business and financial centre. I submit that enhanced privacy and data protection is also a competitive edge for Hong Kong as an international city."
"The only consolation I have is that the Administration has undertaken to keep the subject alive and shall formulate proposals for further engagement with the Legislators and other stakeholders, but only after the new Companies Ordinance is brought into operation in the first quarter of 2014."
"The debate on the subject in recent months has been pretty lopsided. I appeal to all human rights advocates and privacy experts to speak out. I urge the Administration to pledge a time-table for its formulation of proposals to put the enacted legislation into effect. Similarly, I also urge the Administration to pledge a timetable for release of the results of its public consultation on legislative amendment proposals to protect registered vehicle owners from illegitimate access to their personal particulars kept by the Commissioner for Transport under the Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap.374E)2."
"Maintaining the status quo is not an option. I trust the Administration will not abdicate its leadership responsibility in taking forward these data protection initiatives despite their controversial nature," Mr. Chiang further remarked.
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2 See latest progress as reported by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury in reply to a question raised by the Legislator Councilor the Hon. Tang Ka-piu. (www.fstb.gov.hk/eng/sfst/press/2013/pr20130227a_e.pdf)