Privacy Commissioner criticizes police officer who broke data privacy law by displaying reporter’s ID card during protest live stream. HKJA urges the police to apologize immediately

During the interception of reporters in Tai Po Super City in December last year, a police officer showed the reporter’s ID card and press card in front of the live camera. The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data issued an investigation report on the incident, and believed that the police officer’s behavior was inconsistent with and was not directly related to the purpose of performing interception duties and verifying the identity of the reporter. Without the reporter’s consent, the police officer violated the data protection principles of the Privacy Ordinance on the use of personal data. HKJA welcomed the commissioner’s report and asked the police to formally apologize to the victimized reporter.


At the time of the incident, the police officer involved intercepted and searched a reporter who was conducting an interviewing. The police officer deliberately showed dozens of the reporters’ Legislative Council press card, HKJA press card and even ID card before the live camera, the reporter’s private information was put on public display.


The victim, Ronson Chan (Vice Chairman of HKJA) pointed out that the behavior of the police officer at the time was obviously deliberate. “Everyone knows that they cannot publicly display others ID cards.” He questioned that other police officers on the scene also intended to protect their shortcomings. It was a collective mistake. It is expected that the police will, after undergoing internal disciplinary procedures, punish the police officers involved in the eighth-level punishments based on the warning, condemnation, severe condemnation, confiscation of salary of not more than one month, demotion, immediate resignation, forced retirement and dismissal according to the police regulations.


HKJA reiterated that police officers should not hinder the media’s work. The disclosure of the reporter’s ID card and other personal information, like an act of “doxxing” and has caused substantial damage to the parties involved. The police should formally apologize to the victimized journalist and promise to deal with the incident seriously and make improvements in accordance with the recommendations made by the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.


This is not an isolated incident. Since the campaign started in June last year, the police have displayed common problems in law enforcement such as violations of laws and regulations, obstructing the work of reporters, with higher level officers present displaying indifference.


Hong Kong Journalists Association


22 December 2020

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