Inundated with e-mails from firms

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 3:27am

Can a representative of our regulators please respond to my query - what were they thinking when they amended the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance in Hong Kong?

Recently I have been inundated with e-mails and snail mails from all sorts of organisations informing me that effective April 1, they can use my personal data for direct marketing purposes, and also share them with their "partners, associated companies, agents and affiliates" for the same purpose.

Yes, I have a right to opt out, but why is the onus on me? Why should I have to spend so much time and effort doing this when I have not been expressly told from the outset that I will be subjected to this violation of my privacy?

If organisations want to use my data, why don't they do the work and come to me for proper consent (that is, an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out approach)?

What considerations are they paying me for the use of my information?

Many don't make the opt-out procedure easy either.

Most don't provide an e-mail address and the telephone number provided takes you through an automated answering service with an extensive menu, with no clear direction for this opt-out path. It is aggravating and exhausting, to say the least.

Obviously, they're making this difficult and unfriendly so we won't bother opting out.

Take the communication from my mobile phone provider. In a six-page legal document, where the opt-out information is at the bottom of page five, I found out how extensively they can now use my information, including disclosing/transferring same to their contractors and affiliated companies overseas.

I'm told that this is subject to my "consent", by which they mean if I don't opt out, then "consent" is deemed to have been given.

That is certainly not my intention and I strongly object to have this onus unilaterally placed on me.

Why are our brilliant regulators subjecting us to such time wastage?

I am all for business and free enterprise but this is too high a price to pay and I don't believe they have a right to make this decision on my behalf.

Individuals should have a right to opt in if they wish to have their personal information passed around, or do not mind organisations profiting by sharing it. For those of us who do value our privacy, please leave us alone.

L. Chang, The Peak