Speech at Panel on Security (By Videoconferencing)

Results of study of matters raised in the Annual Report 2019 to the Chief Executive by the Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance

Compliance with the statutory requirements among officers of the law enforcement agencies

Noting that there were 16 cases of non-compliance/irregularity/ incident out of 1 339 authorization applications in 2019, in which the percentage was lower than that of 27 non-compliance cases out of 1 384 applications in 2018, Mr CHAN Chun-ying asked whether the improvement was attributed to the forum provided by the Commissioner in January 2019 to speak to frontline officers on the requirements under the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance (Cap. 589) (“ICSO”), and whether similar activities would be held regularly.

S for S said that two forums were held respectively in 2018 and 2019, which were very useful as the Commissioner could explain and answer in person the detailed requirements when carrying out ICSO-related tasks. The Government would liaise with the Commissioner on holding more forums in the future.

The Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance

Given the proliferation of use of social media and instant message applications among members of the public, Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed concern as to whether there was a need to amend ICSO, with a view to intercepting information transmitted via new types of applications.

S for S explained that as stipulated in ICSO, “communication” meant “any communication transmitted by a telecommunications system”; and “intercepting act” meant “in relation to any communication, the inspection of some or all of the contents of the communication, by a person other than its sender or intended recipient”. As such, it was considered that ICSO was broad enough to cover various kinds of communication despite technological changes.

Installation of electric locks security system in Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre

Operations of electric locks security system and the installation progress at the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre

Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed support for the proposed ELSS. He was concerned about the staff deployment in SLPC during the planning and installation stage of ELSS. He was also concerned about the security assessment and the facial recognition technology, in particular under the current COVID-19 epidemic situation that everyone was wearing a face mask.

US for S took the opportunity to thank the Correctional Services Department (“CSD”) for their effective deployment in human resources to ensure smooth operation of SLPC. Upon system commissioning, CSD would further redeploy staff, so as to strengthen the rehabilitation and other welfare programmes. US for S further stressed that the Government attached great importance to security assessment, and relevant assessment was conducted during the installation stage in compliance with the guidelines set out by the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. Members’ attention was drawn to the fact that ELSS was an independent and closed system, which could only be operated in one institution with all wirings enclosed in conduits to protect them from being interfered or damaged. Besides, the facial recognition technology was a dual identity-verification arrangement, implying that apart from facial recognition, staff in the control room had to verify the identity of the requesting staff through the intercom and closed-circuit television system before unlocking the gate. Although the reliability rate of ELSS could be up to about 97% to 98%, the Government would further examine the impact of wearing face masks on the system.