26/02/2020. Following requests received from various entities (public and private), the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong (PDPO), on 26 February 2020, published a press release on his website on the possibility of processing by private/public entities the personal data of social network users who could be potential carriers of the virus.
– “If people are suspected of having close contact with infected persons, it would be in the public interest to closely monitor their whereabouts, including places and people they have visited and contacted, in order to control the further spread of COVID-19 in the community. The intent of this legislation is also clear, namely to track down potential carriers of the virus. Therefore, the various private entities would be entitled, in the public interest, to carry out the processing and subsequent transfer of the subjects’ personal data, without the need to obtain their consent.
– “In summary, Commissioner Stephen Kai-yi WONG says that “there are sufficient legal bases, either under international law or local law, on which the government can collect and use information through devices (online or offline), applications, software or supercomputers for the purpose of monitoring potential carriers of COVID-19 or patients in the interest of both the individuals concerned and the public, not to mention the fact that the same approach has been adopted in many other jurisdictions”.
(In accordance with Hong Kong’s data protection legislation, personal data of data subjects may only be processed for the purpose for which they were collected. However, it goes on to indicate that the right to data protection is not an absolute right. It is to be assessed alongside other fundamental rights, such as the right to life. Not only the life of the subject affected by the COVID-19, but also the life of those potential personalities to whom it could be transmitted).