Thursday, March 5, 2015   

Firms condemned over deceitful data collection
(04-09 12:08)

An investigation by the Office of Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data found that a body check service firm and an insurance broker obtained personal information -- through deceitful means -- for direct marketing, the privacy watchdog said.
Several persons complained to the PCPD that Hong Kong Preventive Association Limited (HKPA), a body check service firm, had collected their personal data (names, gender, mobile phone numbers, residential addresses and partial identity card numbers) over the phone for the purpose of signing up for free medical check-up service that was said to be in support of a "Universal Medical Check-up Scheme". Thereafter, they received a welcome letter and gifts for joining the Aegon Direct Club. Subsequent to this automatic enrolment to the Aegon Direct Club, they received direct marketing messages from Aegon Direct from time to time.
Only after receipt of the welcome letter did the complainants realised that the true purpose of the call from HKPA was to collect their personal data for transfer to Aegon Direct for the latter's direct marketing activities. The complainants were dissatisfied that the HKPA telemarketers had not explicitly informed them of the intended transfer of the data to Aegon Direct for use in direct marketing. The complainants were also dissatisfied with Aegon Direct's use of their personal data in direct marketing without obtaining their consent. Hence, they lodged their respective complaints to the PCPD.
Over the past two years, HKPA had obtained the personal data from about 360,000 people and sold the data to Aegon Direct for use in direct marketing of insurance products.
"Octopus's contraventions in the collection and use of the personal data of customers registered in the Octopus Rewards Programme (2010) should be a wake-up call to corporate data-users in Hong Kong," The Privacy Commissioner, Allan Chiang Yam-wang. "With regret, however, in many recent investigation cases, including this one, it was found that the data users still fell short of meeting customer expectations and compliance with the requirements of the Ordinance."
   
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