Sunday, October 26, 2014   




Talk not cheap in privacy era

Monday, May 05, 2014


Western countries attach much importance to personal privacy and have elaborate statutory protections for this right.

In comparison, people in Asia are relatively less concerned, and attitudes may vary greatly between places.

Singapore, for example, is enacting privacy laws in the middle of this year and looks set to catch up.

Hong Kong's privacy protection level is rather high for the region, with laws having been in place for more than a decade and the legal regime being refined continuously.

That's why officials from neighboring countries often come here to exchange views on the subject and to learn from our experience.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data holds promotional activities every year, and these events must keep abreast with the times.

This year's focus is online privacy, and the privacy chiefs of giant US and mainland social media Facebook and WeChat have been invited to participate.

A Facebook representative will arrive here later this month.

The internet has a bad reputation in privacy protection.

Why then would such a representative accept an invitation, when discussing the subject in public is like openly accepting challenges in a boxing ring?

One reason is that young people are getting wary about using social media as online privacy concerns grow - which is hurting Facebook's leadership position.

Avoiding the issue wouldn't help, but sending someone to "take up the challenge" may be one way to allay such worri
es.

And WeChat, the most successful mainland social media, wants to expand its presence internationally.

To do so, it must deal with the issue first, as the mainland's track record in this regard is rather less than exemplary.

I believe these are the reasons why the likes of Facebook have accepted the invitation. Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily


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