Some disconnect remains over terminus Wi-Fi use

Personal information may be collected and sent to mainland authorities if people access the MTR Wi-Fi at the West Kowloon terminus.

Phoenix Un

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Personal information may be collected and sent to mainland authorities if people access the MTR Wi-Fi at the West Kowloon terminus.

Those who want to connect their devices to the network "MTR Free Wi-Fi" while inside the terminus will need to click "agree" to a disclaimer.

The disclaimer from Guangzhou-based Comba Telecom says that once people agree, the MTR will be permitted to transfer or share their personal information to the "Hong Kong SAR government [and/or government of the People's Republic of China] and/or their authorized institutions for the purpose of crime prevention or investigation, and any investigations under laws and regulations."

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was asked about this issue before yesterday's Executive Council, said the appropriate laws will be followed in corresponding areas.

"Hong Kong laws will apply in the Hong Kong port area, while mainland laws will be applied in the mainland port area," she said.

However, internet users still need to agree with the disclaimer even when they are on the B1 level - where tickets are sold and which is still within Hong Kong jurisdiction.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Information Technology Federation, cautioned that once the phone is connected to the terminus Wi-Fi, "everything in your phone can be accessed, including videos, messages, photos and browsing history."

He said the mainland Wi-Fi should only be provided after entering the mainland port area.

Fong said people should not connect to the Wi-Fi if they want to protect their personal information and they may need to install firewalls in their devices.

But the chairman of the Legislative Council Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, Michael Tien Puk-sun, said he does not believe that people's information will be transferred to mainland authorities before crossing the border.

"It would be ridiculous if that happened," Tien said.

He said all the speculation may be due to "unclear wordings" and that the MTR may only want to remind passengers that their information may be collected by the mainland government "after crossing the Shenzhen River."

Meanwhile, mainland law enforcers were spotted for the first time at the terminus. About 20 mainland policemen showed up at the B2 level - the arrival level - where some of them performed drills.

Officers were seen dressed in the white uniform of China customs while others in a blue uniform sporting "PRC Police" armbands were seen sitting in chairs at the B3 level, which is the departure floor.