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Media Statement - Privacy Commissioner Calls for Greater VigilanceWhen Teenagers Go OnlineBeware of Swindlers of Personal Data

Date:23 November 2020

Privacy Commissioner Calls for Greater Vigilance
When Teenagers Go Online
Beware of Swindlers of Personal Data

As a result of the pandemic, teenagers tend to spend more time on online learning and social networking. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) noted from the findings of a recent survey on online lewd traps that nearly 90% of the parents interviewed allowed their children to go online unsupervised. More than 80% of the parents interviewed were worried that their children might fall prey to online lewd traps. Besides, the PCPD also noted from media reports that the Police have recorded 616 online naked chat blackmail cases from January to September this year, which represents a more than threefold increase year-on-year and exceeds the total number of 171 cases in 2019. Among these cases, 40% of the victims were students.

The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (Privacy Commissioner), Ms Ada CHUNG Lai-ling, noticed that some criminals devised plots to impersonate teenagers in order to make friends with teenagers online.  After gaining their trust, the criminals induced the teenagers to hand over their personal data and even private photos in order to perpetrate fraud or other crime such as blackmail. The Privacy Commissioner said, “I urge teenagers to exercise greater vigilance when they go online, or chat on internet, online social platforms or vide instant messaging. They should avoid indiscriminately disclosing any personal data or photo, including those of their family members.

The Privacy Commissioner recommends that parents and teachers may try to better understand teenagers’ online habits and related potential risks and remind teenagers to be more vigilant when they go online. The salient points include:

  • Be careful when making friends online. Don’t be too ready to trust new friends whom you met online. Be prudent and vigilant at all times, and do not disclose personal data indiscriminately or provide private photos;
  • Remember to turn off the camera and microphone functions when online learning tools are not in use;
  • Beware of fraudulent websites and false information in order to avoid thefts of personal data;
  • If a website or email looks suspicious, do not click the web links or download documents or apps. Seek help from parents or teachers immediately;
  • If there is any suspicion of naked chat fraudulent activities, report the matter to the Police immediately; and
  • If personal data and/or photos are found improperly disclosed on internet, contact the relevant social media platforms to request removal of the personal data and photos; or contact the PCPD at 28272827 or email for assistance.