Proposed amendments to the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance will give Hong Kong’s Commissioner on the Interception of Communications and Surveillance greater oversight into the conduct of the territory’s law enforcement agencies.

In a set of recommendations submitted to the Legislative Council, the Security Bureau recommends empowering the Commissioner’s Office to use wiretapping and other eavesdropping devices to monitor law enforcement agencies for illegal breaches of Hongkongers’ privacy.

Photo: Flickr.

According to the current ordinance, the heads of law enforcement agencies must submit a detailed report to the commissioner if they believe that personnel violated regulations in the interception of communications.

However, if the head of the agency feels that their subordinates’ violation was through no fault of their own, they are only required to submit a cursory incident report to the Commissioner’s Office.

LegCo complex. Photo: Wikicommons.

The Security Bureau also recommends empowering the commissioner to delegate investigatory powers to dedicated staff members; however, it still rejects the introduction criminal sanctions for law enforcement agents who breach the ordinance.

With the endorsement of the legislature, the recommendations will also see the commissioner’s team of 20 civil servants expand to 23, with the addition of one Senior Executive Officer and two Executive Officers to provide additional support.

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Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others