Hong Kong’s unofficial chief executive election opinion poll PopVote back online next week

Organisers revamp voting arrangement after discussion with city’s privacy watchdog

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 11:09am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 5:11pm

An unofficial online poll on who should be the next Hong Kong chief executive will be back up and running next week after being put on hold for days to address concerns from the city’s privacy watchdog.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner had raised worries when Citizens United In Action (CUIA) – a post-Occupy protest group one of whose leaders is Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting – launched the first stage of the poll on February 7.

CUIA suspended the poll on Tuesday, a day after Privacy Commissioner Stephen Wong Kai-yi “strongly” requested it stop collecting voters’ personal data “unfairly” on its PopVote smartphone app and popvote.hk website.

Wong also wanted CUIA to stop using Telegram, the popular instant messaging smartphone app which the voting platform was built on.

CUIA announced on Thursday night that it would use a new voting arrangement, that it believed would clear security doubts, on Monday.

Under the new arrangement, which still links to Telegram, voters will be asked to log in to Telegram on smartphones or computers and connect to the voting platform through Telegram Bot, a program that in this case will automatically link users to the poll.

Voters had been asked to provide their name, phone number and identity card number to register on the platform. The organisers said the collection of identity card numbers was to avoid duplicate voting.

Voters will still have to give their phone number and identity card number.

CUIA reiterated its members could not read voters’ identity card numbers, which were encrypted by Telegram, in either the original or the new design, and it would not collect Telegram login codes.

But the new arrangement would help eliminate the perception of the privacy issues, the group said.

The University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme and Polytechnic University’s centre for social policy studies are running the poll, whose end date will be pushed back two days to February 24 because of the suspension.

The new arrangement was announced a day after CUIA met the commissioner to talk about the issues.