Getting to Grips With Data Hong Kong

Discovering Hong Kong data privacy can be challenging, particularly given recent changes to privacy laws. But Padraig Walsh from our Data Privacy practice explains it is crucial to gain an understanding of how Hong Kong law interprets key data privacy concepts before dealing with specific inquiries regarding data transfers.

Hong Kong’s Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (“PDPO”) regulates the collection, storage, processing and use of personal information. According to international norms, “personal data” means any identifiable or indiscernible information pertaining to living individuals that is stored or processed by anyone – although any collection should only occur with lawful purposes in mind and in ways which do not interfere or compromise privacy in relation to what the data collection is used for.

This includes informing data subjects directly about the purposes for which their personal information will be used and who it may be transferred. This obligation arises upon becoming a data user and must be fulfilled before any personal data collection takes place.

The PDPO prohibits disclosure of personal data without consent of data subjects; this provision of the act can be enforced through court action. While not required by law, providing this information in written format would be recommended.

Navigating Hong Kong’s Data Protection Ordinance can be time consuming and costly for companies not familiar with Hong Kong’s regulations on data protection. To make things simpler, organizations should appoint a privacy officer as an initial point of contact for all data-related matters; the PDPO contains specific requirements for such positions in its laws – providing invaluable help when navigating them.

To further facilitate data sharing, the HKMA has undertaken to develop its Central Data Infrastructure (“CDI”). CDI will offer direct links between banks and sources of commercial data – part of its Fintech 2025 initiative to improve Hong Kong’s data infrastructure and increase financial inclusion within its borders. CDI should help reduce financial intermediation costs as well as increasing commercial data availability to foster innovative financial products and services in Hong Kong.