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Cross-Border Data Flow: Hong Kong Opens its Doors while Safeguarding Local Data

Updated: Aug 24, 2023


【Cable News】The Hong Kong SAR government signed a cooperation memorandum with the National Cyberspace Administration at the end of last month, allowing Mainland China's financial and medical data to be input into Hong Kong's database. Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Nicholas Yang, stated that Hong Kong has strict regulations on personal data protection, assuring citizens that their data is secure and safeguarded.


The Mainland tightened its data export policy last year, which also affected Hong Kong. The two regions signed a memorandum titled "Promotion of Cross-border Data Flow in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area," allowing data from various sectors such as finance and healthcare to be imported into Hong Kong under secure and orderly conditions.


Regarding local data and personal information, Nicholas Yang, the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, assured that they will continue to be protected. Yang stated, "Objectively, it facilitates the cross-border flow of Mainland data within the Greater Bay Area. Hong Kong's established policies remain unchanged. For instance, we have the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance in Hong Kong, which imposes strict restrictions on the regulation of personal data, especially in terms of cross-border data transfer. Therefore, citizens can rest assured. Our existing regulations on the cross-border transfer of personal data are still subject to stringent legal provisions, and there is no need for concern."


Yang emphasized that Hong Kong has become a data hub, attracting businesses to settle here. However, he acknowledged that certain U.S. policies, such as chip bans, have made foreign technology companies hesitant to set up operations in Hong Kong. He will continue to engage in external lobbying efforts in the future. Yang commented, "It is incorrect to say that there is no impact at all. There is definitely an impact, but the extent of this impact and whether it has a disruptive effect on our technological exchanges with other countries is not necessarily the case. Through several overseas visits since taking office, I have sensed that some countries, especially European countries, still have concerns about Hong Kong."


Reflecting on his first year in office, he described the innovation and technology policy as starting to yield results. Hong Kong has entered the fast lane of technological development and is currently seeking an industrial commissioner to lead the future industrial development of Hong Kong. While Mainland data can be input into Hong Kong, the protection of local data remains strict.


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