The Immigration Department said on Thursday that it has lost a pack of arrival/departure cards containing the personal data of 460 visitors, although none of those involved are Hong Kong residents.

The cards were filled out by travellers who passed through the Sha Tau Kok Control Point on September 28. The Immigration Department said that they had not located the cards after days of searching, but so far there was nothing to show that there was a leak of data, and it was likely to be an isolated incident.

According to RTHK, Immigration Department officers at each control point collect the forms and send them to the administrative department at the end of every day, where they would be then locked up. When about a hundred of the forms have been accumulated, they are then transported in envelopes to the headquarters and destroyed within a month.

sha tau kok
Sha Tau Kok Control Point. Photo:

The Department said that a task force would investigate the incident and if any negligence or mishandling was found this would be dealt with severely. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) have been informed of the incident and it has also been referred to the police.

“The Department will review the existing security of personal data as advised by the special task force and ensure effective protection of personal data collected… [it] attaches great importance to security of personal data, and has laid down clear internal guidelines and a control mechanism to ensure that personal data is kept in compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance and other relevant laws and ordinances,” a spokesperson from the Department said.

alan leong
Alan Leong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, member of the Legislative Council Panel on Security, criticised the Immigration Department for not announcing the incident sooner. “There’s suddenly a couple of hundred documents missing, and you don’t know whose hands they ended up in… if  you’re a traveller who filled in a form, you would be quite worried. [The Department] should at the very least identify which part of the procedure it is that has a problem, how to prevent the problem from reoccurring in the future, so as to re-instill confidence in these travellers,” he said.

Ip Kwok-him, Chairman of the Panel of Security, said that it was an isolated incident and would not further damage the reputation of Hong Kong among mainland tourists.

Earlier this month, it was reported that a police officer lost a notebook containing the personal details of 49 people in Tin Shui Wai.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.