Day: June 12, 2024

Data Protection Law – Implications For Businesses Transferring Data Between Jurisdictions

Hong Kong’s data protection law is often viewed as one of the most modern in the world. It has a high standard of transparency and accountability, and many of its principles are similar to those found in other legal regimes such as mainland China’s Personal Information Protection Law or the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. However, in some cases, the interpretation of key concepts can differ slightly. In this article, Padraig Walsh from the data privacy practice at Tanner De Witt looks at the implications of these differences for businesses that transfer personal data between jurisdictions.

In the context of data transfers, ‘personal data’ refers to any information that identifies or could identify an individual. This includes an individual’s name, identifiers (e.g. a date of birth or passport number), contact details and other information that can be used to locate an individual. This definition is broad and is broadly consistent with international norms. However, the term does not include sensitive data such as health or ethnic origin.

Whether or not data is considered “personal” is determined on the basis of the purpose for which it is collected. As a result, it is important that a business understands how its purposes are defined to determine whether or not it must prepare a PICS and comply with other data protection laws in Hong Kong.

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If an organisation decides to transfer personal data overseas, it must inform the individual that their personal information will be transferred abroad. It must also verify the lawful basis for the transfer (although this is less onerous than under GDPR). For example, a combination of data on a staff card, which usually exhibits a person’s full name, job title, photograph and employee number, might be classified as personal data, which would require a PICS to be prepared.

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