The unofficial online civil nomination platform for the chief executive election will resume on Monday.

The system was previously suspended owing to privacy and security concerns over its requests for users’ identity card numbers, authentication codes and passwords for the instant messaging app Telegram. The concerns were raised by tech experts and the privacy commissioner’s office.

Law professor Benny Tai, the representative of the organiser Citizens United in Action, met with the privacy commissioner on Wednesday to understand the concerns.

Benny Tai. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP

The group said the commissioner was concerned the identity card numbers might be recovered even though they would be stored as unrecognisable codes, and the platform’s statement on collecting personal information did not clearly state this. The group said it would make changes.

The commissioner was also concerned about the security risk in using Telegram to authenticate users’ identities, as attacks on the system may leak their authentication code and passwords. The group said there was no evidence that the system was being infiltrated or that any information was stolen, but still decided to suspend the current system.

After that, it was announced that the system will reopen adopting a new electronic nomination system using a bot account on Telegram, similar to that of the “ThunderGo” strategic voting discussion platform used during the Legislative Council election last year. Users do not have to submit their authentication codes or passwords.

Photo: PopVote.

The nomination period will be extended to 5pm on February 24.

The bot account will also be used for the unofficial vote for candidates between March 10 and 19 – before the actual election’s voting day on March 26 – and there will be street stands in some districts for people to vote at.

Lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung previously said that if he successfully gains around 38,000 nominations through the platform and through street campaign stands, he will run for chief executive. He obtained 5,349 nominations on the platform before it was suspended on February 14.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.