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Survey result on smartphone app privacy

For Immediate Release


Over 60% disagree PCPD’s handling of ‘Do No Evil’

IT Industry Calls For More Communication and Review of Legislation



(18 October 2013) In August 2013, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Personal Data (PCPD) strongly criticized a mobile app “Do No Evil” for seriously intruding personal data privacy. The incident caused strong concern in IT industry as it may cast profound impacts on mobile apps development. In view of the potential impacts, Charles Mok, Legislative Councilor (IT Constituency) and the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association (WTIA) conducted an online survey to collect industry opinion from 18 September to 4 October.

Among the 128 responses of the survey, over 60% disagree with PCPD’s handling of the ‘Do No Evil’ case, with close to 35% being ‘strongly disagree’. Over two thirds of the respondents showed confusion over some of the recommended best practices from the ‘Guidance on the Use of Personal Data Obtained from the Public Domain’, a note published by the Privacy Commissioner. Reasons include the practices being ‘difficult to comprehend and follow’ (68%), ‘not practical’ (60%), and ‘worry that apps developed might be banned’ (52%).

Mr. To CHEUNG, Chairman of the WTIA said citizens have legal access to the information in the database of ‘Do No Evil’ application, which is disclosed by law. As the cost of conducting due diligence checks is high, only corporations can afford obtaining such information, which is now made available via mobile application. He stated that the Privacy Commissioner banned the local application on the ground of being ‘too convenient’ is unreasonable, that the judgment hits hard on the industry especially small businesses.

‘The Privacy Commissioner’s judgment hinders the use of new technology in the name of privacy protection, and lag behind the industry’s expectations. Privacy protection regulations should not withhold technology development. The government claims its support for creative industries and SMEs. It should walk the talk and not disappoint the industry through ambiguous judgments.’ Mr. Cheung said. He urged PCPD to pay more effort in public education and communicating with technology industry to devise clear and practical guidelines.

Hon Charles MOK, Legislative Councilor (Information Technology) said, ‘Results of the survey show IT industry is deeply concerned over how the Privacy Commissioner’s implement the privacy laws affect free flow of information and technology innovation. As technology continues to evolve, it is an opportune time to review regulations over personal information available in the public domain. ’

Hon Mok pointed out that given the privacy legislation in some countries (such as Singapore and New Zealand) has made exemptions for the use of data available in the public domain, the government should take steps to update the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, by reviewing the definition of “data available in the public domain”, scope of exemptions from the data protection principles, and purposes of making data publicly available.

About WTIA

Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association (WTIA), established in 2001, is a non-profit trade association registered in Hong Kong to provide a platform for wireless-related business to work together for facilitation of industry development and growth. WTIA has over 150 company members locally and overseas, including mobile network operators, mobile device manufacturers, hardware / software vendors, system integrators, wireless application developers, mobile content providers, etc. WTIA frequently cooperates with the Government, industry associations and corporations to implement many projects and organize a lot of important events.

Survey report and related documents, pleaseclick here.

Media Enquiries

Office of Hon Charles Mok   Michelle Lam (3758 2616 /[email protected])

Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association  Grace Lam (2989 9163 /[email protected]

Office Of Hon. Charles Mok, Legislative Councillor (IT)