Alliance to fight proposed rules on personal data

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am


Leaders of companies that collect and use personal data have formed a coalition to oppose proposed rules that would require them to reveal what kind of customer data they have and why - and whether they passed it on to third parties.

The Direct Marketing Association, the Call Centre Association, the Federation of Insurers and the Exhibition and Convention Industry Association said the scheme put forward by the privacy watchdog would be a burden on their operations.

The Association of Banks also expressed reservations.

'It adds a layer of bureaucracy at great cost to companies which will eventually result in a greater price to consumers,' Direct Marketing Association chairman and coalition leader Eugene Raitt said yesterday.

Under the proposed Data User Return Scheme, the public sector, banking, telecommunications, insurance and other companies with large customer databases will have to make annual submissions to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and will have to specify whether they transfer personal data to third parties, in or outside Hong Kong.

Any changes would have to be updated within 30 days, and the public would be able to view the information for a fee. A spokesman for the Privacy Commissioner said the scheme should satisfy both customers and businesses as it promotes a higher standard of data protection.

The proposal follows public outrage at revelations that the Octopus card issuer made tens of millions of dollars selling customer data.

Raitt said the current system worked well in protecting personal data. He said of 1,179 complaints received by the watchdog last year, about 75 per cent were directed at private industry.

'If you try to estimate the total number of transactions that could generate those complaints, it's in the tens of millions, so the percentage is probably less than one-tenth of 1 per cent of all transactions,' he said.

Raitt said the coalition would meet Undersecretary for Constitutional Affairs Adeline Wong Ching-man and lawmakers before expressing their views at a Legislative Council bills committee meeting today.


Octopus made this much, in HK dollars, by selling the details of an estimated two million users to six firms without their consent