IFJ call on Hong Kong Government to enact Freedom of Information Law

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) in calling on the Hong Kong Government to enact Freedom of Information legislation. The IFJ and HKJA strongly oppose any further tightening of controls regarding the public’s access to information.

On July 28, Allen Chiang, Commissioner of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, suggested in an official press conference that the Hong Kong Government should tighten restrictions on searching for public information in the 10 most commonly used public registers. Chiang said that a recent survey which highlighted the most commonly searched registers,  showed that most registers do not have safe guards to protect personal data being misused. The only two registers that had safe guards were the electoral registry and the vehicle registry. Chiang said that restrictions and safe guards were needed to prevent the ‘malicious use’ of personal data and information online as society entered the ‘big data’ era.

The HKJA strongly disagree with the statements made by Chiang, arguing that such statements contradict Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The HKJA said: “We oppose the concealment of personal data in business registries, simply because this is a basic duty of being a shareholder of a company. As a journalist, it would be difficult to reveal any individual wrongdoings or eviction of legal duties if there is concealment of personal data. Public interest will be jeopardized.”

The IFJ Asia Pacific office said “Privacy must be protected but transparency is also the cornerstone of democracy. We understand it is the duty of the Commissioner of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data to remind the Hong Kong Government to protect personal data. However the Office’s statements do not strike a balance between the people’s right to know and personal privacy.”

We support HKJA to call on Hong Kong Government to announce a work plan of the enactment of Freedom of Information Law and ask the Department of Hong Kong Government to uphold people’s basic rights when considering any amendments to legislation.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries

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