AN INDEPENDENT commission to guard against the invasion of privacy is one of the key recommendations contained in a Law Reform Commission report to be unveiled this week. The 240-page report, which will be released on Thursday, contains wide-ranging recommendations to ensure personal data collected by organisations - both private and public - is used properly. It also has clauses ensuring that individuals have the right of access to amend personal data files. But the controversial powers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on telephone tapping will not be addressed despite assurances by Governor Chris Patten, who said three months ago that the issue was being looked at by the Law Reform Commission. In April, Mr Patten told legislators: ''It [telephone tapping] is already being looked at by the Law Reform Commission, which we hope will report in August this year. It has part of the Law Reform Commission's work on privacy. We asked them to look at interceptions and they are doing so.'' But commission secretary Mark Berthold said the sub-committee on privacy had yet to start its review of the ICAC's surveillance powers. He said the review on obtaining information on individuals without notifying the individual, including telephone tapping and surveillance, would be completed next February. This week's report will recommend that all organisations should declare fully the reasons why personal data is held. It will also recommend that organisations should not be allowed to use personal information for purposes other than those they tell to individuals when collecting the data. It is understood the report will also recommend making violations of privacy a criminal offence. The commission will also suggest setting up an independent privacy commission to handle complaints from people who are denied access to information held on them or who are prevented from correcting it. Under the proposal, the commission will be headed by a privacy commissioner, who would be a non-government official appointed by the Governor. This is seen as an attempt to emphasise the independence of the commission. The commission will have considerable powers to investigate complaints. There would also be room for appeal against his decisions. It is understood that some regulatory bodies would be exempt from the report's recommendations, if they are enacted, but efforts would be made to keep their numbers down. The Hong Kong Journalists' Association is understood to have successfully argued that newspapers have a right to restrict access to unpublished articles in the interests of press freedom. At present, individuals do not have a right to know what information is held on them by the Government or private agencies or how it is being used. But preserving confidentiality and affording people privacy rights is being seen as essential with the change of sovereignty in 1997. A study in the United States indicated only 20 per cent of the files on people kept by organisations were completely correct. It was estimated that the average person had about 150 files held on them in the public and private sectors. The recommendations put forward by the commission to the Government would have a significant impact on the drafting of laws to protect privacy.