LAWS on personal data are being drafted to protect individual privacy, but they would also ensure companies had access to information essential for business, Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung revealed yesterday. Mr Suen, recently given responsibility for human rights, said the branch had started preparatory work for draft legislation which would provide control over personal data collection, storage and transfer. Public concern about the threat to individual privacy was increasing with the growth in personal data being collected, stored and transferred between public and private organisations, he said. But other countries were also increasingly restricting transfer of data to places without an acceptable regulatory regime, and this could impede international business dealings. Mr Suen said preparatory work on the legislation was taking place in parallel with the Law Reform Commission's examination of the law in this area. The legislative proposal and a Law Reform Commission report were expected to be finalised in the middle of next year, and a bill was expected to be tabled during the 1994/95 session. An administrative measure allowing people to check personal records had been adopted in April this year, but the move had been criticised as half-hearted because of the lack of legislative measures to safeguard freedom of information. Mr Suen promised the branch would vigorously tackle the new subjects on human rights and personal freedom. Thirteen legislative amendments had been made and enacted under the review on the compatibility of laws with the Bill of Rights, and another eight were in the pipeline.