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36 and 38(b).


Although section 52 appears to be a broad exemption in Part 8, the use of words such

as “held”, “individual” and “only” in this section limits its application accordingly. First, as

decided by the AAB in AAB No. 46/2006, section 52 only applies to data already held by

an individual and has no application to DPP1 in respect of the collection of personal

data. Second, section 52 applies to personal data held by an individual, as opposed to

being held by a corporation. Third, the personal data must be held only for the

management of personal, family, or household affairs or for recreational purposes. Thus,

if personal data is not held solely for these reasons but for other purposes as well, section

52 exemption is not applicable.


In the case of AAB No. 46/2006, an employee secretly recorded his conversation with his

supervisor during a lunch meeting and then uploaded the recorded conversation to

websites and internet discussion forums inviting downloading. The Commissioner found

the mode, magnitude, and extent of disclosure of personal data to have exceeded the

original purpose of collection (i.e. for handling personal affairs which was exempted

under section 52) and hence contravened DPP3. The decision of the Commissioner was

upheld by the AAB.


In AAB No.28/2010, the complainant was a member of an owners’ committee. She was

tape-recorded by another member during two owners’ committee meetings in which

she expressed her views on various matters. She lodged a data access request with the

member requesting access to her views and conversations at the two meetings but was

refused on the grounds that the recording did not contain her personal data. The AAB

commented that even if the tape recordings amounted to the complainant’s personal

data (which was not accepted), the exemption under section 52 would have applied in

this case. There was nothing to cast doubt on the claim by the owner that she held the

tape recordings for record purposes to manage her personal affairs, and there was no

suggestion otherwise by the complainant.


Another common example in which section 52 is invoked is found in situations where an

individual, without the consent of his relative or friend, uses his personal data as a credit

reference for a loan or credit application. Subsequently the individual defaults in

repayment resulting in the credit provider, or their appointed debt collection agent

pursuing the referee to locate the whereabouts of the debtor for recovery of the

outstanding loan, causing him annoyance and distress. When complaints of this nature

are received, the Commissioner will look at the totality of the evidence and take into

account factors such as whether any actual damage is suffered by the individual

concerned, the relationship between the complainant and the party complained

against and the purpose for which the personal data was held, processed or used

before deciding whether section 52 is applicable to the case in question.

Sections 53 and 54 — Staff Planning and Employment


Section 53 is seen to be a straightforward provision which exempts from application