New Data Transfer Agreement Between China and Hong Kong

A database is an invaluable resource that can help businesses improve customer service, make strategic decisions and abide by legal requirements more easily. It can be gathered from a variety of sources, including government agencies and companies that offer data management services. A well-developed database should be current, accurate and secure with features to prevent unauthorised access. It should also be easy to navigate and accessible to all users.

In a new initiative to make Hong Kong an international data hub, the HKMA is establishing a next-generation financial data infrastructure (CDI) to provide better information management and support the development of financial technology solutions. It will enable banks to share information more efficiently with each other and commercial data providers. It will also promote creativity for developing innovative financial products and solutions in Hong Kong.

However, the success of the initiative will depend on whether governments can resolve differences in their respective regulatory frameworks and negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement that is acceptable to both sides. This will require time and effort, according to Vincent Chan, Greater Bay Area consulting partner and leader at EY.

The agreement will be the first to establish a cross-border data transfer mechanism between mainland China and Hong Kong, and it is intended to set a model for other countries in the region. It will allow local firms to tap into the large market in mainland China and use its high-quality talent base, Chan said. The pact will also boost Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global digital economy and improve its economic prospects, he added.

While the new deal will create opportunities for both sides, it may also pose a challenge to data protection. For example, a staff card usually exhibits an employee’s name, company name, photograph and employee number, which constitute personal data under the Hong Kong Personal Data Protection Ordinance (PDPO). The combination of these data is likely to be considered sensitive and should not be displayed together or made available to anyone beyond those who need it to carry out their work.

To address these concerns, the pact stipulates that each party will establish an independent authority to oversee cross-border data transfers and apply relevant laws. It will also develop a set of codes and guidelines to facilitate the transfer of data between the two jurisdictions. The PDPO also requires that data collected in Hong Kong be kept securely and only used for purposes for which it was collected.

The new agreement should provide a safer and more efficient way for companies to do business in mainland China, while strengthening Hong Kong’s position as an international data centre, said the HKMA’s executive director, John Chan. He cited the growing need for data-driven innovation as an important factor driving the new pact. The deal also reflects the increasing recognition that cross-border data transfers should be conducted with a higher level of security and transparency. In addition, the pact will enhance Hong Kong’s ability to serve as an international platform for companies in the Greater Bay Area.