Hong Kong Issues EU Data Privacy Law Guidance on the upcoming GDPR

The Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (the “Hong Kong Data Privacy Commissioner”) has recently published compliance guidance on the upcoming GDPR to raise awareness in Hong Kong companies about the potential effects and reforms needed in order to comply with the new GDPR requirements.

The guidance examines the GDPR’s extra-territorial effect on Hong Kong companies that (i) have establishments in the EU, where personal data is processed in accordance with the services provided by the establishment, regardless of whether the data is actually processed in the EU; or (ii) that offer goods and services in the EU, despite not having an EU establishment or (iii) that monitor the behavior of individuals in the EU.

The guidance, through a helpful step-by-step comparison, highlights that Hong Kong companies will be subject to greater data protection obligations under the GDPR then is currently the case under Hong Kong’s Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (“PDPO”). Of particular importance, is the compliance guidance examination of the accountability principle in the form of a data protection officer (“DPO”) and ongoing data privacy management tools under the GDPR which are not explicitly provided for under the PDPO but will become a mandatory requirement under the GDPR.

The GDPR further extends its extra-territorial scope by requiring as express requirements for Hong Kong companies processing EU data subjects’ personal data:

  • records of all processing activities;
  • restrictions on the processing of a certain category of personal data, sensitive personal data, where there was previously no distinction between sensitive and non-sensitive personal data under the PDPO;
  • providing for consent as one of the lawful grounds for processing personal data, where there was no such ground previously under the PDPO;
  • making data breach notifications mandatory, rather than voluntary as under the PDPO;
  • regulating companies acting as data processers under the GDPR, as opposed to previously being unregulated under the PDPO; and
  • introducing a right of data subjects to restrict processing of their personal data, where there had been no such right previously under the PDPO.

You can view the guidance booklet in full (including the useful comparison table highlighting the major differences between EU GDPR and HK PDPO) here.