Peril in ‘name and shame’ game2016.01.28
NETIZENS who name and shame people on social media, such as the ‘Jenny Mak’ who scolded a police officer for stopping her from going to Tai Mo Shan (大帽山), could be in breach of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (個人資料（私隱）條例).
Chief personal data officer of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (個人資料私隱專員公署) Vanessa Wu Mei-Lai (胡美麗) said: “Most complaint cases would be dismissed if the information was shared on social platforms by someone who is associated to the person being exposed, such as friends or family.”
Wu said the current ordinance exempts those who use the personal data of others for a “domestic or recreational purpose”.
But she said there is no guarantee of exemption for netizens who access and share someone’s personal information even when it is made public. The ambiguous definition of a friend would also make each case different and it is hard to generalise whether there would be legal consequences.
“If someone wants to complain, they will at least have to be able to provide the name of the person they are complaining against and should provide a contact method,” Wu said.
The Privacy Office may interfere and start mediation, or issue a warning asking the person or the organisation potentially breaching the ordinance to remove certain information online. If the warning is ignored, the case could be referred to the police.
This comes as the number of complaints received by the Privacy Office reached a new high of 1,900 last year, with the top three categories of complaints being about direct marketing, Hong Kong ID cards and internet-related domains.
(This article is published on The Student Standard on 29 January 2016)
Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance at a glance
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