Thursday, November 26, 2015   

An app for privacy law breach

Kelly Ip

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A smartphone application providing background checks for users has been seriously breaching the personal privacy law, but the company has not stopped disclosing the data through its website.

Allan Chiang Yam-wang, privacy commissioner for personal data, said Glorious Destiny Investment stopped the service seven days after being warned on July 31.

But he learned that Glorious Destiny also provided litigation and bankruptcy data through other channels.

Its website still allows internet users to access the data.

A spokeswoman for the commission said no complaint has been received regarding the other channels, but it has begun a compliance check on the firm.


The "Do No Evil" app was launched in June last year. It allowed employers to check against a database of about two million records if a person had been involved in any lawsuits or declared bankrupt in the past.

The app has been browsed 200,000 times and data downloaded 40,000 times since its launch. Users are given 10 points to check the records, but have to pay HK$1 to access each person's record.

Chiang said personal data should only be used for the intended purpose or a directly related purpose, and consent should be sought from the subjects.

Chiang also said employers cannot check a potential employee's sexual conviction record without obtaining his consent.

"The use of the data provided by the app is inconsistent with that when it was originally collected," Chiang said. "It is difficult to restrict further use of the data and there wasn't any measure adopted to restrict individual users from bulk download or reproduction of the data from the database."

The app would not update the records if the person involved was acquitted from a court case.

"It is unfair to put the responsibility on the data subjects [in modifying] their own records in the app," Chiang said.

He said the company will face criminal charges only if it infringes on the regulation again.

Brilliant United Investment, the developer of the app, said all the records were obtained lawfully from public records.

The privacy commissioner also found that 40 percent of the 60 apps it checked did not have a privacy statement when users decide to download the app.

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