HK Government must abandon for good the proposal to restrict public access…

HK Government must abandon for good the proposal to restrict public access to Company Directors’ full personal information

         HKJA notes that the HK Government has revised its plan and postponed the tabling of subsidiary regulation of the newly approved Company Ordinance on restricting public access to the personal data of company directors in the Company Registry Record. This is a step in the right direction but it does not completely allay the concerns of the general public. We, therefore, urge HK Government to abandon its proposal completely and forever to ensure that freedom of information will not be hindered under any circumstances

         Since the press fully understood the arrangements on restricting public access to the Company Registry Record under the newly passed Company Ordinance, we expressed our opposition. We consider such a move as an attempt to discourage the free flow of information and thus harm the freedom of press. Different sectors of society also expressed their opposition. Some believe that it would have a bad impact on the rights of minority shareholders and/or employees. Some are concerned that it would block ordinary people from protecting their own interests through getting the information they need in the Company Registry Record.  This would result in a conflict of public interest.

            We also note that, as stated on the paper, which was submitted by Financial Service and the Treasury Bureau to Legislative Council on March 28, that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (OPCPD) had pointed out that the present system of public access to directors’ full personal information is privacy-intrusive. That view was contradicted by the Privacy Commissioner’s answer to the press in January. We’re deeply regret that the OPCPD, as a statutory institution, failed to maintain her integrity.

         In fact, both freedom of press and privacy are human rights which are safeguarded by the Basic Law. Unfortunately, HK Government established a statutory institution to handle privacy concerns while being reluctant to improve the legal framework to protect the freedom of information, which is essential to the freedom of press. We urge HK Government to draft the Freedom information Law and the Archive Law immediately in order to protect people’s right to know.

          Last but not the least, we are also concerned about the establishment of the OPCPD without setting up a Human Rights Committee. This destroys the balance of human rights protection. Thus the HK Government could restrict the free flow of information in the name of privacy protection, which would lower the transparency of HK Government. We urge HK Government to implement the suggestion of the UN to establish a Human Rights Committee, in order to enhance the protection of the rights of Hong Kong people.

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Record Number of Journalists call on Government to keep company directors’ personal information in p