News & Insights

Status of Personal Data lawfully in the Public Domain

There has been much debate over the Privacy Commission’s intervention into the packaging-up (or ‘aggregation’) of personal data in the public domain, facilitating searches by members of the public of such data.  This intervention focused on the ‘Do No Evil’ App operated by Brilliant United Investments Limited (BUI) and resulted in the Privacy Commissioner (Commissioner) serving an enforcement notice on Glorious Destiny Investment Limited (GDI) requiring it to cease supplying personal data to BUI for the purposes of the App.  In addition, the Commissioner published a Report No. R.13-9744 into the App (Report) and issued a Guidance Note on the Use of Personal Data Obtained from the Public Domain in August 2013, shortly after taking the enforcement action.  The Commissioner has also published several articles in the media attempting to justify his position.

In this article, we will examine the Commissioner’s reasoning behind his decisions, comment on some rather surprising omissions and make some general observations about the use of personal data which are lawfully and officially in the public domain.

This article was originally written in the early part of 2014.  Readers should note that it does not consider this year’s controversy in Europe about the right to be forgotten nor does it comment on the Commissioner’s recently issued Best Practice Guide for Mobile App Development (which can be found at this link: ).

Please click here to read the guide.

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Simon Deane

Consultant | Banking and Finance

Email or call +852 2825 9209

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