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“collection of personal data”, the Eastweek case contains other dicta that seem to

confine the scope of the Ordinance. Examples were quoted in the judgment (92G to I)

of photos taken and published in the newspaper by the business editor in order to

illustrate a social phenomenon, such as a crowd jostling in a queue for an initial public

offering of shares or the purchase of flats in a new property development. A features

editor may also publish photographs of teenagers smoking cigarettes in an article on

health concerns. Likewise, a sports editor may publish a picture of racegoers at Happy

Valley to illustrate attendance in record high numbers. Though the persons being

photographed in these situations might not like the idea of having pictures containing

their images published, insofar as their identities are not known to the publisher and

there is no evidence to prove that their identities are of relevant concern to the

publisher, it does not amount to collection of their personal data, according to the dicta

in the Eastweek case.


Particularly noteworthy is the following passage in Ribeiro JA’s judgment (92J) after

quoting the examples mentioned above:

. . . in none of those cases is the publisher or editor in question seeking to collect personal data

in relation to any of the persons shown in the photographs and, in my view, the taking of such

pictures and their use in such articles

would not engage the data protection principles

. . .”

[emphasis added]


Of the six data protection principles in Schedule 1 of the Ordinance, DPP1 deals with the

collection of personal data. It follows that, without collection of personal data, DPP1

would not be engaged. Where DPP1 is not engaged (i.e. there has not been a

collection of personal data) in a given situation, the Ordinance is not applicable.


The Court’s judicial interpretation of the term “collect” clarifies the regulatory remit.

Given the very wide definition of “personal data” in section 2(1), the application of the

requirements under the Ordinance in a mechanical manner could lead to practical

difficulties, not to mention anomalies in relation to activities where the handling of

personal data is not in issue.

Practical Example: Whether the Use of CCTV


for Security or Monitoring Purposes

Amounts to Collection of Personal Data


The use of CCTV devices for monitoring purposes is a prevalent practice in Hong Kong,

for a variety of reasons. For instance, law enforcement agencies may install CCTV to

prevent and detect the crime of dropping objects from a height, or to monitor

pedestrians and traffic flow at busy and strategic locations. Banks may install CCTV at

bank premises for security reasons, and employers may install CCTV for both security

reasons and to monitor staff attendance. The management company of a building may

also install CCTV inside lifts to ensure the personal safety of the residents and visitors.


Three scenarios are considered below to illustrate whether there is collection of personal

data. The first scenario relates to the installation of CCTV which does not have a



Privacy Guidelines: Monitoring and Personal Data Privacy at Work

, available on the Website: _Work_revis_Eng.pdf