Discussions are being held with the Monetary Authority on the protection of personal data including that of bank clients, says new Privacy Commissioner Stephen Lau Ka-men. Some banks have come in for recent criticism for hiring unscrupulous companies to collect debts from customers, and a code of practice on the protection of personal data had to be worked out, Mr Lau said. Discussion was also under way with business chambers and the Association of Banks, he added. 'Priority of discussion will depend on sensitivity of the personal data, how close it is with daily life, is there a code of practice already developed, is it enforceable or is it adequate,' Mr Lau said. Personal information was less likely to be misused if agencies collecting it had to say why they were doing so, Mr Lau said. He said the information should not be used for purposes that people objected to, such as direct marketing. Collectors who did not abide by the law could be subject to a fine and two years' imprisonment. Mr Lau will recommend that Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung ensures the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance is effective by the end of the year so Mr Lau's office can start receiving complaints. Some preparatory work had to be done including recruiting about 32 workers to serve in his office, he said. Mr Lau said a set of internal procedures on the receipt and handling of complaints also had to be drafted. Mr Lau was previously the managing director of Electronic Data System (Hong Kong) Ltd.