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minutes was about a report of an accident with a boiler. On appeal against the

Commissioner’s finding of no contravention, the Chairman of the AAB ruled that the

contents of the minutes did not amount to the personal data of the complainant but

was primarily concerned with the piece of equipment in question, although it had

recorded some of the remarks made by the complainant. The complainant applied for

judicial review of the AAB’s decision. In the judicial review (HCAL 1050/2000) the Court of

First Instance applied the Eastweek case and ruled that the minutes concerned issues

arising from the maintenance and repair of the boiler only, and the identity of the

complainant was not an important piece of information to the data user. In the

circumstances, the Court held that the contents of the minutes did not contain the

complainant’s personal data. The decision of the Court of First Instance was confirmed

by the Court of Appeal (CACV 960/ 2000). If there is no compilation of information about

the member or employee, then Condition A is not satisfied; hence, according to the

judgment of the Eastweek case, there is no collection of personal data of any members

or employees present at the meeting whose discussion may happen to be recorded in

the minutes.


In an investigation


carried out by the Commissioner into a management company

operating a car park, a staff member of the management company was found to have

conducted searches with the Transport Department using licence plate numbers he had

collected with a view to finding out the names and contact addresses of the registered

car owners. Direct marketing leaflets were then sent to these owners. The management

company in this case had clearly shown an intention to compile and did compile

information about individuals whom it intended or sought to identify. The act (of physical

receipt of the information) coupled with the requisite intention (of the data user to

compile or seek to compile information about a specific individual) constitute collection

of personal data under the Ordinance.


Furthermore, the clandestine taking of photos by a reporter of a targeted individual

without his knowledge or consent could amount to collection of his personal data when

the above conditions are met. This was the case in two investigation reports


in which

three artistes, engaged in personal activities in their private residences were

photographed from a distance outside using cameras with tele-focus lenses. There was

no doubt that the intention of the photographers was to compile information about the

artistes’ private lives to be published in a magazine.


The actual circumstances must be examined on a case by case basis to determine

whether or not there has been any “collection” of personal data concerning an


Consequence of Absence of “Collection”


Apart from providing judicial meaning to the term “collect” and a data user’s act of


See Investigation Report No. R12-3428, available on the Website:


See Investigation Reports Nos. R12-9159 and R12-9164, available on the Website: