Date: 15 July 2019
Uphold Unique and Irreplaceable Attributes of “One Country, Two Systems”
Advocate Privacy Accountability and Data Ethics
Privacy Commissioner Speaks at IAPP Asia Privacy Forum in Singapore
The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (Privacy Commissioner), Mr Stephen Kai-yi WONG, attended the 2019 Asia Privacy Forum (Forum) of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) in Singapore today (15 July), and gave an opening keynote speech. In his speech, Mr Wong promoted compliance with regulatory requirements, accountability and data ethics. He also pointed out that Hong Kong will continue to uphold its unique and irreplaceable attributes so as to strike a proper balance among public interests such as personal data privacy protection, free flow of information as well as facilitating business operations and innovation.
The two-day Asia Privacy Forum is Asia's largest international forum focused on the operational best practices for data protection. The theme for the 2019 Forum is "Global Context, Local Focus", which attracts some 500 representatives from regulators, data protection professionals and academics from all over the world.
The Privacy Commissioner also pointed out in his keynote speech that globalisation of commercial and data processing activities means that businesses now have to comply with multiple regulatory regimes. Given the legislative fragmentation in data protection across the globe and the rapid development of information and communications technologies, meeting regulatory requirements alone would not be effective enough to adequately protect personal data privacy and live up to individuals’ expectations. Mr Wong said, “In recent years, my office (PCPD) has encouraged enterprises to implement a privacy management programme, adopt good practices and accountability mechanisms, and incorporate personal data privacy into corporate governance by a top-down approach. We have also been advocating complementing compliance with the law by the adoption of data ethics, integrating the values of fairness, respect and mutual benefits into the practical work, such as providing customers with real choices, obtaining meaningful consent, eliminating prejudice or discrimination, and fair equivalence exchanges. We hope that a proper balance would be struck between privacy protection and free flow of information in order to facilitate and not stifle technological innovation.”
The Privacy Commissioner then set out Hong Kong's unique and irreplaceable attributes that enable the city to fly high as a regional data hub and an innovation centre. Mr Wong said, “The ‘Belt and Road’ and ‘Greater Bay Area’ initiatives advocated by our country require smooth and secure flow of digital data across borders and boundaries to propel business success. We have continued to leverage our unique and irreplaceable attributes under “One Country, Two Systems” principle , including being as one of the freest economies in the world, practising capitalism, having high degree of autonomy, and enjoying executive, legislative and independent judicial power. Hong Kong also has free flow of information and a comprehensive legal regime for protecting privacy and personal data. The city is also the only region in China with English as an official language. These unique and irreplaceable attributes enable Hong Kong to develop into a data hub and innovation centre.” The Privacy Commissioner stressed that the high-speed development of information and communication technology in mainland china in recent years has created unlimited business opportunities. Although China has not enacted a comprehensive data protection law, a number of sectoral laws, regulations and administrative measures have been implemented to strengthen personal information protection in recent years.
Data is borderless in the digital age. Even the long arm of a statute does not provide a data protection authority with sufficient capacity to regulate around the world. International cooperation among data protection authorities therefore is essential for effective enforcement. The Privacy Commissioner said, “International cooperation should include law enforcement, policy-setting, research and education, etc. Cooperation in policy-setting is particularly important amidst the legislative fragmentation in data protection laws. Data protection authorities should have consistent regulatory policies to improve interoperability of regulations in different jurisdictions.”
The Privacy Commissioner took this opportunity to explain to some 500 guests and participants from all over the world that the recent incident in Hong Kong did not have negative impact on the city’s unique and irreplaceable attributes under "One Country, Two Systems". By leveraging on the Motherland and engaging itself globally, Hong Kong will develop as a regional data hub, as well as a key link and prime platform for economic, social and cultural development in the Belt and Road economies and the Greater Bay Area.
During the Forum, the Privacy Commissioner met with data protection authorities, privacy professional associations and chambers of commerce representatives from all over the world to exchange views on the global personal data protection outlook, recent privacy issues of common concern and mutual cooperation development.
The IAPP is the largest and most comprehensive global information privacy community and resource. Founded in 2000, the IAPP is a not-for-profit organization that helps define, support and improve the privacy profession globally. More information about the IAPP is available at https://iapp.org.