Wing Lung Bank has failed in its challenge of the Privacy Commissioner's ruling that the bank's transfer of a client's data to a third party violated privacy laws. An independent statutory body upheld the ruling yesterday and dismissed the bank's appeal. The case dated back to 2005 when a woman surnamed Wong applied successfully for a Walker Shop Visa credit card with Wing Lung Bank, the Administrative Appeals Board heard. In November 2007, a salesman named Alex Liu telephoned Wong and introduced himself as a representative of the bank. She agreed to buy an insurance plan from Liu, believing she was purchasing a product from the bank. It was not until Wong checked her credit card statement two months later that she realised the insurance policy she had taken up was not with the bank and that Liu was a representative of the insurer Cigna instead. She complained to then privacy commissioner Roderick Woo Bun that Wing Lung had disclosed her personal data to Cigna for direct marketing purposes. Woo ruled that Wing Lung had violated the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance and ordered the bank to stop disclosing clients' data to third parties unless it had the customers' consent. He also instructed the bank to ask Cigna to destroy the data obtained from it. Wing Lung filed an appeal in November, saying the privacy chief had erred in fact and in law. New Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang welcomed the board's ruling. He said: '[The board] has affirmed that where a data user intends to use its customers' personal data for promotion by third parties of products and services not directly related to the original purpose for which the data was collected, express consent should be obtained from the customers.' Chiang said it was pertinent to note that Cigna had approached the customer in the name of the bank. The approach, which amounted to misrepresentation in the board's view and led to revocation of the insurance policy bought, was improper and should be avoided, he said. Wing Lung could not be reached for comment yesterday evening.