Hong Kong approved 1,310 applications for interception and 25 applications for covert surveillance in 2019, a report revealed on Wednesday.

According to the annual report submitted to the Legislative Council by the Commissioner on Interception of Communication and Surveillance (ICSO), only four out of the 1,314 applications were denied last year over insufficient supporting documents.

Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance Annual Report 2019. Photo: GovHK.

The ICSO oversees four law enforcement agencies: the Hong Kong Police Force, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Customs and Excise Department, and the Immigration Department.

The report revealed that there were 16 cases of non-compliance last year. In one of the outstanding cases from 2018, the ICSO found that surveillance was conducted when the target was not in the specific area.

According to the report, the officer “was not aware” of any potential non-compliance, and two senior officers responsible for monitoring the operation “were not familiar with the surveillance duties in their daily work.”

A.R. Suffiad, Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance in 2019.

The law enforcement agency involved recommended giving verbal warnings to the officers. One of the officers was removed from conducting surveillance upon the ICSO’s recommendation.

The report showed that 316 people were arrested as a result of the interception or surveillance conducted.

In 2018, 1,378 cases were approved out of 1,384 applications.

Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.