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.


Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Kilpatrick is a local writer, journalist and editor. Formerly National Online Editor for the That's magazine group in China, his work on the history and politics of the region has earned him the CEFC Award in Modern China Studies and has also appeared in China Economic Review, Asian Studies Review, China Green News, e-International Relations, Shanghaiist and various publications at his alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Journalism programme.