• Wed
  • Nov 19, 2014
  • Updated: 6:37am
NewsHong Kong
PRIVACY

Outrage after Hong Kong firm attempts to DNA test all women staff over blood in bathroom

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 1:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 6:14pm
 

In an attempt to find an employee who left menstrual bloodstains in the female restroom, an investment company required all its female staff to give blood samples for DNA testing.

Highlighting the episode among examples of serious breaches of the law, Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang said yesterday that "less intrusive measures" should have been taken to avoid the "outrageous" process.

He said that after an enforcement notice was issued, the company - a local small business - agreed to destroy all of its samples and stop collecting them.

The case came to light after employees who had refused to give samples complained to the privacy watchdog.

In another case, an enforcement notice was issued to a furniture company that collected fingerprints to deter employees from punching time-cards for one another.

Senior personal data officer Natalie Poon Kit-lam said that due to the "unique immutability" of fingerprint data, less privacy-intrusive alternatives should have been adopted as misuse of fingerprints could lead to serious personal data privacy risks.

An unnamed law enforcement agency that collected the identity card numbers of job applicants' referees also received an enforcement notice for carrying out "unnecessary" data collection.

Chiang also said that recruiters who failed to disclose who they were in their job advertisements breached the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance by soliciting applicants' personal data in an unfair manner.

While most offenders were small and medium enterprises, listed companies were among those who published "blind ads" - in which the advertiser is not identified. A one-week study of more than 9,000 adverts in seven recruitment listings in March found 3.4 per cent were blind ads.

Chiang said his office had issued enforcement notices to 48 advertisers while investigations into another 23 cases were continuing. "A blind ad only demonstrates the company's ignorance of the law and a disrespect for privacy and data protection."

He urged recruitment media to act as gatekeepers by stepping up their efforts to identify the advertisers and by screening adverts.

Offenders who fail to comply with an enforcement notice can be fined HK$50,000 and sentenced to two years in jail.

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17

This article is now closed to comments

gongtaulo
This is a criminal case and should be given to the Police to investigate. Providing a blood sample requires a physical assault on the person that in these circumstances was obviously not given freely but under threat of being sacked. Get the cops to investigate the company and prosecute those responsible.
charlie212
Very disturbing and a clear violation of the privacy act.
I remember once after leaving the men's room in our building, drops of white liquid were found on the floor and we were all required to produce se-men samples before lunch break.
I felt so violated.
However they did provide jergens soap and tissues so it wasn't that bad.
ntmount
Sick. The employer needs a psychiatrist. Its unbelievable.
Camel
I do not approve the method of this company to check the DNA of their female employees (what would this have cost them?) but this female employee, even if she had natural mens. bleeding, could have cleaned her mess up. This is only considerate to her other colleagues. It is the same if you do not flush the toilet after use.
Maybe this happen a lot of times for the company to react and they just wanted to know who it was and whether it was done on purpose (to leave the blood stains there).
charlie212
i think it's time to drop the "oxy" part of your name
hkqx
Blood and DNA is excessive. But fingerprints under certain conditions are not. The Govt should read their own guideline:
****www.pcpd.org.hk/english/infocentre/press_20120514.html
Or the reporter or Editor can double verify.
Hollander323
Blood in bathroom: the lady did not leave the blood there for fun, she was having a menstrual flow which is a natural phenomenon for half of the population on this earth, only carelessly she stained the toilet somehow somewhere, that is it, no big deal. Can the supervisors be more caring? Can he/she ask his/her staff if "she" needs assistance in some ways. Gee, that lady might be having a medical condition.
allan94
hey oxygen-moron!
i think there are a few chromosomes missing from yourDNA
gunzy
Wow, sensationalized headlines and peoples comments acting like the sky is falling.
.
Firstly, DNA tests costs a minimum of $400 USD each, pretty steep price to pay even if you were an investment bank. This wouldn't be an issue for anything less then 5 female staff (as in they can probably figure it out themselves) so we are talking about a sizeable number of women.
.
Secondly, why would any company use such an extreme method if this was a one time occurance? To take an extreme step like this rips apart the working environment in a company, it's corporate suicide to think any company would do this so wantonly.
rpasea
The article names 2 organizations regarding the recruitment adverts....why not the DNA and fingerprint culprits? Name names!

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