9 Things You May Not Have Known About Data Privacy Laws in Hong Kong

1. You have the right to find out what personal information organisations hold about you.

It contains six ‘data protection principles’ that organizations must follow when they collect, process, or use your personal data.  One of these principles gives all Hong Kongers the right to access that personal data and to make corrections to it if there are errors.

2. You can exercise this right against individuals and businesses too, not just local government bodies.

You can exercise this right against all kinds of public and private organizations as well as individuals in Hong Kong, although there are a range of exceptions, such as where the data is used only for domestic or recreational purposes.  Organs of the Central Government operating in Hong Kong are also exempt.

3. You can exercise your right in both Chinese & English.

Hong Kong has two official languages, and organisations must comply with your request regardless of which one you use

4.You don’t have to make this request in person.

Data holders cannot force you to come to them in person to exercise your access rights.  You can do it in writing, online, or even send an authorized representative to do it for you.

5. Access My Info:HK makes this easy for you!

The Access My Information: Hong Kong project lets you easily make a data access request to your mobile phone or internet service provider.  Answer a few questions on our website and we’ll get the request together for you. You can then send it in via email or print it out and post it yourself.  Check it out at https://accessmyinfo.hk

6. Data holders must respond to you within 40 days.

The law requires that the subject of the data access request respond to you in writing in not more than 40 days.  At this point they may provide you with the information you have requested, or ask you for some more information to help them process your request.

7. Data holders cannot charge you anything more than the costs of complying with your request.

The law states that any fees charged must be ‘reasonable’, and the Privacy Commissioner of Hong Kong has said this means they cannot charge you any unnecessary costs that might make you decide not to exercise your rights.

8.  If they refuse to comply they must give you reasons – in writing.

The law requires that any denial of your access request must be accompanied by reasons why, and the Privacy Commissioner has said they must be in writing.  This will help you understand the reasons and make it easier for you to challenge them if you wish

9. Not all Hong Kong organisations agree what ‘personal data’ is.

The Access My Info:HK project so far reveals that different telecommunications and internet service providers have different ideas about what counts as “personal data”.  Is it your subscriber account information? Is it a list of phone numbers you have called or sent SMS to? Is it IP addresses associated with your account?  A list of websites you have visited? Join the project at https://accessmyinfo.hk and see what kind of personal information they say they hold about you!

This feature is part of a Digital Asia Hub Data Protection Day specialFor permission to republish or for interviews with the author please contact Dev Lewis

  • Stuart Hargreaves

    Stuart Hargreaves

    Assistant Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Prof. Hargreaves is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is also Director of the LLB programme and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies. He is qualified as a barrister and solicitor with the Law Society of Upper Canada, has worked as a policy advisor to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, and practiced law for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, in the constitutional law and policy division.
    Stuart Hargreaves

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      Lokman Tsui

      Lokman Tsui

      Assistant Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong
      Lokman Tsui is a scholar, activist, and currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where his research focuses on free expression, digital rights and internet policy. Lokman was formerly Google's Head of Free Expression in Asia and the Pacific.
      Lokman Tsui

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