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necessarily involve the collection of “personal information”.


Surveillance activities

carried out by law enforcement agencies are regulated under the Interception of

Communications and Surveillance Ordinance, Cap 589, Laws of Hong Kong and the

personal data collected as a result is by virtue of section 58A exempt from the provisions

of the Ordinance.


While personal privacy may be interpreted to mean the right to seclusion or solitude, the

Hong Kong Law Reform Commission (“LRC”) addressed the issue in its Report on Stalking,

October 2000, concerning reform of the law relating to domestic violence and stalking.

The LRC recommended that when a person pursues a course of conduct that amounts

to harassment of another which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of

the other, he should be guilty of an offence. In the area of media intrusion upon the

privacy of individuals, the LRC recognised the limitation of the Ordinance as it is not

intended to establish general privacy rights against all possible forms of intrusion into an

individual’s private sphere.



To follow up on the report, the government issued a consultation document in 2011

inviting views on issues including whether there is a need for legislation against stalking,

whether stalking should be made a criminal offence, the level of penalty and the

recommended defences. Consideration was also given to the provision of civil remedies

for victims. In response to the consultation, the Commissioner expressed general support

for more stringent regulation against stalking as a stalker may engage in a series of acts

like collection and dissemination of the personal data of the victim. Given the wide

definition of stalking, a data user’s persistent and unfair collection of the data subject’s

personal data may be considered as stalking. There are scenarios where a breach of

personal data privacy rights would overlap with the act of stalking, for instance, the

pursuit of covert photography of artistes by the media. While the Commissioner agrees

that it would be reasonable for the media to pursue a course of conduct in order to

report on a matter of public interest, if the story is about the private life of an individual

with no public interest involved, the media should not pursue the individual to the point

of causing alarm or distress to the individual. A balance is needed between press

freedom and other fundamental human rights, including the right to privacy. The

Commissioner supports the creation of a separate defence on “legitimate news

gathering activities”. In debt collection related activities, the Commissioner takes the

view that establishing stalking as a criminal offence would be a more direct sanction

against abusive debt collection practices, such as repeated telephone calls and

posting up copies of a debtor or guarantor’s identity card with an abusive message. The

Commissioner supports legislating against stalking and making it a criminal offence with

civil remedies available to victims.


The views received during the public consultation on stalking in 2011/12 indicated that

while there was support for introducing an anti-stalking legislation to afford better

protection to the victims, there were also serious concerns expressed over the

implications that such legislation may have on constitutional rights such as freedom of


See the LRC's

Report on Privacy: Regulating the Interception of Communications

, December 1996, paragraphs 6 to 9.

The Privacy Guidelines: Monitoring and Personal Data Privacy at Work

issued by the Commissioner focuses on the

monitoring activities carried out by employers where personal data of employees are collected.


See the LRC's

Report on Privacy and Media Intrusion

, December 2004, at paragraph 9.39.