Hong Kong had strict laws in place to protect the privacy of personal data stored in people's mobile phones, Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping said on Wednesday. Dr Ho was replying to a question in the Legislative Council by executive councillor Tsang Yok-sing. Mr Tsang asked Dr Ho what laws existed to protect the privacy of people whose mobile phones were lost or stolen. He said these people then faced the dilemma that the personal data in their mobile phones could be abused by others. Mr Tsang said an example of such abuse would be putting personal information from a person's mobile phone onto the internet. Dr Ho replied: 'There are existing protections and remedies against the abuse of other people's data stored in mobile phones. 'Depending on the circumstances involved, unauthorised use, including disclosure, of personal data stored in a mobile phone may attract both civil and criminal liabilities under existing legislation,' he told the Legco. Dr Ho said obtaining and disclosing personal data in other people's mobile phones was subject to the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. 'A data user is prohibited under section 4 of the PDPO from doing an act, or engaging in a practice, that contravenes the data protection principles [DPP] set out in Schedule 1 of the Ordinance, unless the act or practice is permitted under the Ordinance. He said this law required that the collection of personal data be conducted by lawful means. 'The data user is also required to take all practicable steps to ensure that the data subjects are informed of the purpose of data collection on or before the collection,' explained Dr Ho. The home affairs secretary noted that while each case might be different, in general, obtaining personal data was likely to breach these requirements. 'The DPP requires that personal data should not be kept longer than is necessary for the purpose for which they are collected. 'Under the PDPO, the Privacy Commissioner may serve an enforcement notice on a person who has contravened the requirements stipulated in the ordinance,' he said. Dr Ho stressed that breaching an enforcement notice was a criminal offence. 'The offender is liable on conviction to a fine at level 5 and to imprisonment for two years; and in the case of a continuing offence, to a daily penalty of HK$1,000.' He said people who had suffered because of a breach of the PDPO were entitled to compensation. Dr Ho said the government was currently reviewing the PDPO.