Monday, November 30, 2015   

Talks face up to privacy issue

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has just held its annual Privacy Awareness Week promotion activities.

A new initiative was to invite heads of social media to host talks on personal data protection.

Facebook deputy chief privacy officer Rob Sherman flew all the way from Washington to take part and, as social networking involves pressing privacy issues, his talks drew much interest.

Sherman also hosted an in-depth discussion session with politicians and academics, including IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok Nai- kwong, Standing Committee on Technological Developments member John Bacon-Shone and University of Hong Kong academic Marcelo Thompson.

Many of those in attendance are avid social media users and have a direct stake in privacy protection, so they started to fire sharp questions right after the opening remarks.

Sherman said to address increasing concerns Facebook has made the privacy issue an integral part of new service developments, and its new "Ship Love" slogan is about sharing love and care messages under privacy protection.

Participants asked about frequent commercial messages users received, and wanted to know the Facebook policy in this regard and if users may refuse to be monitored entirely.

Another focal point was whether Facebook would automatically gain access to WhatsApp user data, including communication records after taking over the latter.

Questions from the floor came thick and fast, and Sherman was naturally unable
to provide answers to the full satisfaction of each and every unrelenting questioner.

But he did try his best to deal with the queries, however difficult they might be, and was seen jotting down opinions.

I think he should at least be given high marks on sincerity. Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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