Date: 30 June 2017
Organisations and Individuals Should Comply with Lawful Requirement of the Privacy Commissioner
A Company Director Became the First Offender Convicted of this Offence
(30 June 2017) A director of an employment agency, without lawful excuse, failed to comply with a summons issued by the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (“Privacy Commissioner”) to attend before him to provide relevant information, and was prosecuted at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court today of breaching section 50B(1)(b) of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (the “Ordinance”). The director pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined HK$3,000. It is the first conviction for the offence of failing to comply with a lawful requirement of the Privacy Commissioner since the Ordinance came into effect.
A complainant engaged the employment agency to recruit a foreign domestic helper in July 2014 and provided his personal data for the employment purpose. In November 2014, the complainant lodged a complaint with the office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (“PCPD”), alleging that the employment agency had transferred his personal data to a third party without his consent.
During the course of investigation, the PCPD had repeatedly requested the responsible person of the employment agency in writing and by telephone to provide the necessary information required for investigation. In failing to obtain a reply, the Privacy Commissioner issued a summons to the sole director of the employment agency under section 44(1) of the Ordinance requiring him to attend the office at the specified date and time for examination and provide relevant information as stated. However, the director failed to attend the office without lawful excuse. The PCPD then referred the case to the Police for criminal investigation.
Pursuant to section 50B(1)(b) of the Ordinance, a person who without lawful excuse fails to comply with any lawful requirement of the Privacy Commissioner commits a criminal offence, and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of HK$10,000 and to imprisonment for six months.
The Privacy Commissioner, Mr Stephen Kai-yi WONG said, “The conviction serves as a strong deterrent to remind all organisations and individuals to abide by the law and treat personal data privacy seriously. Parties involved in a complaint should fully cooperate with our office and provide all required information for investigation as expeditiously as possible.