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PRESS RELEASE

Joint press release issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and the Inland Revenue Department

Privacy Commissioner meets with the Inland Revenue Department

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1. The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Mr. Roderick B. Woo and his senior officers today (20 July) met with the Acting Commissioner of Inland Revenue Mr. Tam Kuen-chong and senior staff of the Inland Revenue Department ("the IRD") to review existing security measures which are designed to protect taxpayers’ personal data.

2. The meeting was arranged in the wake of a recent case in which the ICAC alleged that personal particulars of 13,400 taxpayers were recorded by one of IRD's taxation officers for his future personal use. The case came to light yesterday (19 July) and the Privacy Commissioner has taken action to probe into the matter as he is gravely concerned particularly in view of the wide implications relating to the privacy of personal data.

3. "The IRD handles large amount of sensitive personal data and it is of paramount importance that such data be protected from unauthorized or accidental access, processing, erasure or other use. I am glad that the IRD is taking a very serious and responsible attitude in this matter. My Office will carry out a full investigation with a view to rendering assistance to people who are affected and preventing a similar occurrence in the future." Mr. Woo said.

4. During the meeting, the IRD gave an account of its data handling system and security measures.

5. "Our Department is committed to conforming with personal data privacy and has in place a proven system of internal checks and control to ensure proper use of taxpayers' information. In the wake of this unfortunate incident, we will fully cooperate with the Privacy Commissioner and take all necessary steps to strengthen our data protection system in safeguarding taxpayers' personal data." Mr. Tam said.

Ends/Friday, July 20, 2007