Press Releases

Government's response to Legislative Council Public Accounts Committee Report on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data

     In response to media enquiries regarding the report of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD), which was tabled in the LegCo today (February 3), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) said that the bureau would study and follow up on the PAC's recommendations with the PCPD.

     The spokesman said: "The PCPD is an independent statutory body. Its work of protecting personal data privacy is supported with public funds. Its resources must be utilised suitably.

     "We note that the PAC affirms the efforts made by the PCPD to reduce the expenditure of the PCPD. On the other hand, the PAC notes the findings of the Director of Audit's Report in respect of the inadequacies in the PCPD's governance and administration, and expresses concern on a number of related matters. The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data expressed earlier today that he accepted the PAC's comments, and would actively follow up on the recommendations of the PAC and carry out various important tasks of the PCPD.

     "Following the publication of the Director of Audit's report on the PCPD and the PAC hearings held in December 2009, the CMAB has been working with the PCPD on a number of improvement measures and follow-up actions.

     "The PAC Report points out that the PCPD has not adequately emphasised the importance of institutionalising an effective and formal corporate governance structure and systems. On the issue of improving corporate governance, the CMAB supports the PCPD in the establishment of a governance and compliance group in order to assist the PCPD in enhancing its compliance and management work, and to regularise the relevant measures to strengthen its governance. We will support the PCPD in its follow-up work.

     "At the same time, we will continue to monitor the PCPD's overall performance, including checking its expenditure, financial and operational reports, and holding regular progress review meetings with the PCPD. We have also arranged more meetings at the working level so as to enhance the monitoring of the PCPD's expenditure and operation.

     "In addition, we encourage the PCPD to step up its enforcement and promotion work. The CMAB plans to allocate additional resources to the PCPD in 2009-10 and 2010-11 to step up its enforcement and promotion work.

     "To provide the PCPD with greater flexibility in using its resources, after consulting the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, we have also agreed to raise the reserve ceiling of the PCPD from $5 million (about 11% of this year's recurrent subvention) to 20% of its annual recurrent subvention. This will allow the PCPD greater financial flexibility in meeting its operational needs.

     "On enhancing the PCPD's work performance, we will study and follow up on the PAC's and the Director of Audit's recommendations in respect of the PCPD's complaint management. On this aspect, the PCPD agreed to make increased efforts to clear the long-outstanding complaint cases. As for the non-compliance with the 45-day requirement of serving refusal notices to complainants, the PCPD will provide the Personal Data (Privacy) Advisory Committee (PDPAC) and the Administration with statistics and risk assessment findings. The issue will also be made a standing agenda item for PDPAC meetings until the issue is satisfactorily resolved. The CMAB will closely monitor the progress of follow-up actions in the PDPAC and through progress review meetings with the PCPD.

     "Separately, the CMAB has included in the review of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (the Ordinance) a related proposal to consult the public on whether the time limit of 45 days imposed in the Ordinance with regard to a decision to discontinue an investigation should be removed. We are now analysing and consolidating views received during the public consultation, and will follow up on the proposal.

     "As regards the recommendation concerning the reporting of the PCPD's performance, the CMAB and the PCPD are working together on appropriate outcome and performance indicators, with a view to reflecting them in the Controlling Officer's Report of 2010-11.

     "The Government attaches great importance to the recommendations in the reports of the Director of Audit and the PAC. On the basis of respecting the PCPD's autonomy, we will support the PCPD in carrying out the follow-up work so as to improve its governance and administration.

     "In accordance with the established procedure, we will submit the Government Minute to the LegCo in May to report on the progress of follow up actions on the PAC report."

Ends/Wednesday, February 3, 2010