The Registration and Electoral Office (REO) confirmed on Monday evening that it lost two computers containing the personal data of all 3.7 million registered voters in the city.

Update: Hong Kong gov’t says lost election computers are encrypted and ‘extremely difficult to break through’

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

The machines were being stored in a locked room at AsiaWorld-Expo, which was used as a backup polling station for Sunday’s chief executive election. The REO said the computers also contained the full names of the 1,194 Election Committee members who voted in the election.

The personal data included the names, addresses and identity card numbers of all registered voters in Hong Kong. The REO said the personal data was encrypted and there was no evidence that it had been leaked.

It said it had reported to the police, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.

Update: LegCo Pres. under fire for rejecting urgent requests to query officials over missing election computers

AsiaWorld Expo. Photo: GovHK.

“Given that the amount of personal data involved may be significantly large, the Commissioner will review the incident according to procedure,” a spokesperson for the privacy watchdog said.

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said the “careless” mistake made by the REO officers was “unacceptable.” He also questioned why the personal data of all registered voters was kept in the laptops.

“There seem to be serious issues with the basic informational safety procedures of the REO,” Mok said.

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau has instructed the REO to fully cooperate with police investigations, the REO said in a statement.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.