Date: 24 July 2019
Privacy Commissioner Has Started Reviewing Related Websites and Urges Netizens to Respect Others' Privacy
In response to the repeated suspected disclosure of personal data of government officials, public figures, police officers, members of the public and their family members at online discussion forums and instant messaging platforms as reported by media, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (Privacy Commissioner) made the following statement:
As at 5 pm today (24 July 2019), the office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (PCPD) received and proactively found 407 related cases. The PCPD noticed that the related figure has substantially increased since 19 July 2019. While the cases earlier on were mostly related to police officers and members of the public, the recent cases also included public figures.
The Privacy Commissioner strongly urged netizens to respect others’ privacy. The said disclosure of personal data online and bullying acts may break the law. As the enforcement agency, the PCPD enforces the law fairly regardless of the political orientation or identity of the affected parties. Disclosure and bullying acts of similar nature may not only contravene Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (the Ordinance), but also incur civil and criminal liabilities. Contravention of the Ordinance may attract a maximum fine of HK$1,000,000 and imprisonment for 5 years.
The Privacy Commissioner will continue to proactively contact the operators of the relevant online discussion forums and instant messaging platforms to request them and to ask the netizens through them to delete those posts/contents.
In previous cases, the Privacy Commissioner took the same follow-up action of contacting the related operators. Most operators were cooperative and showed understanding. Most of the inappropriate contents have been either deleted or removed by operators.
The PCPD is currently reviewing the related websites proactively and would follow up as and when appropriate.