Council meeting-V. Members’ Motions: Legislating on digital econ and e-Gov service(Pt1)



Deputy President, I thank Ms Carmen KAN for proposing this motion which enables Members to debate this much neglected issue about urging the Government to enact laws that keep pace with the times and legislate on digital economy and e-Government services.  I support the proposals made in this motion.

Technological development has changed the global business environment, and countries around the world are developing in the directions of high-tech economies and smart societies, with a view to becoming smart cities and promoting digital transformation.  The past few decades have seen the rapid expansion of data in terms of volume and value, with a major surge happening at three important points in time.  The first occurred in the 1980s as personal computers became popular rapidly; the second in mid-1990s when we saw large-scale application of the Internet and networking at the personal and business levels; and the third is expected to occur after in-depth optimization of the network bandwidth (e.g. 5G) and universal application of the Internet of Things technologies at the personal and business levels.

In the era of digital economy, as recordable data produced by society keep increasing, the capacity to keep, collect, analyse and apply data is also greatly enhanced, driving data to become an important element of economic and social development.  This is why the value of data governance increases accordingly.  What makes it so important?  It is important as it exercises powers and control over data asset management activities, and through systematic governance measures, it establishes a consistently effective data management mechanism and brings in innovative management experience to help unleash the value of data, which can, in turn, provide new impetus and support for the digital economy and new development pattern.

Take our financial and banking industries as examples.  With the prevalence of digital economy, data governance and application can create value on various fronts for banks in seven major areas, including precision marketing, streamlining of process, credit information analysis, risk control, brand management, internal management, etc.  But improper data management will involve not only capital loss but also the impact of reputation risks.  Therefore, how can we effectively manage this double-bladed sword with digital economy and risks co-existing?  Effective data governance and application strategies are keys to success.

Deputy President, major countries and regions around the world have recognized the importance of digital economy in enhancing economic and social development as well as national strengths, and they have adopted various means, such as introducing data strategies and data legislation, strengthening international data cooperation, etc., to facilitate the opening up of their digital economy resources and transformation of data technology development.

The Mainland has, according to the 14th Five Year Plan, drawn up high-level plans on strategic planning revolving around “digital economy”, “data factor markets”, a “system for nationwide integrated big data centre”, and so on.  In Hong Kong, the Digital Economy Development Committee as advocated in this year’s Budget was set up in June to advise the Government on the development of a digital economy, focusing on driving the growth of data services as an industry, formulating strategies and measures to encourage the adoption of digitalization by different industries, promoting digital Government, etc.

One of the missions in promoting a digital government is to ensure the security and compliance of government data as they inevitably involve a large amount of personal data of the citizens and even their sensitive personal information.  Last year, the Mainland introduced the Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law, both of which involve the regulation of data security and protection of personal data.  Chapter V, “Security and Public Availability of Government Data”, of the Data Security Law clearly stated that government data should be collected and used in accordance with laws and regulations, and that it is necessary to provide protection to ensure data security.

In Hong Kong, the existing data protection law is the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance which came into force in 1996 and has been amended twice so far.  The first amendment exercise was conducted in 2012 to include new provisions targeting the use of personal data in direct marketing; the other was conducted last year aiming mainly to combat doxxing acts that are intrusive to personal data privacy.  But neither of them involved legislation on government data.  In this connection, the Government should expeditiously enact more specific or targeted laws or regulations as proposed in the motion, in order to accelerate the development of e-Government service systems and ensure the use of government data in a scientific manner, thereby facilitating the steady and healthy development of a digital economy in Hong Kong.

I so submit.  Thank you, Deputy President.