Lost personal data turns up on department headquarters' steps

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 May, 2008, 12:00am

Books containing personal data lost from a government family service centre in Kwun Tong in March were found on the doorstep of the Social Welfare Department's headquarters in Wan Chai yesterday.

A bag containing 10 record books and visitor registration books was found between 3pm and 4pm on the eighth floor of the Hopewell Centre.

'In the afternoon of today, someone sent a bag of documents to the Social Welfare Department's headquarters. After verification, we confirmed that the documents are those that went missing earlier,' a spokesman for the department said.

'The department immediately informed the police and the force will continue following up the case.

'Police are investigating and we hope officers can have more information to trace the culprit with the recovery of the books.'

The loss of the books was first revealed on Tuesday, two months after the loss was discovered. The data came from the Kai Ping Integrated Family Service Centre, which mainly serves residents at Amoy Gardens, Choi Ha Estate, Kai Yip Estate and Ping Shek Estate, Kwun Tong.

The records included the names of clients visited by department staff, their addresses and phone numbers as well as some identity card numbers of visitors to the centre. The information was recorded between 2002 and last year.

The department said earlier that a random check had revealed about 10 record books and visitor registration books were missing.

Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said the books' return indicated the data might have been leaked. 'The books were not misplaced but someone took them away,' he said.

The case came amid rising concern over private data protection following a spate of personal information leaks from hospitals and HSBC.

'Something must be done to protect private data more,' Mr Lee said. 'I have talked with the privacy commissioner recently and he said he would also love to carry out more inspections to make sure organisations keep these sensitive data better. However, he noted that the commission did not have a lot of resources.

'The government should increase its funding in order to remedy the situation,' Mr Lee said, adding that the welfare department should inform people affected by the latest data loss.

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