Access My Info (AMI), a web tool used to submit disclosure requests to telecommunications providers on the data they collect and share with third parties about their customers, launched in Hong Kong (Access My Info Hong Kong). Under Hong Kong’s Personal Data Privacy Ordinance, companies that collect and use personal data must provide individuals with access to their information upon 40 days of a request.

Access My Info was developed by Citizen Lab Research Fellow Andrew Hilts and Post-doctoral Fellow Christopher Parsons as part of the Digital Stewardship Initiative, a collaborative project between Open Effect and the Citizen Lab. Access My Info provides a user-friendly way for consumers to submit these requests. Prior to the application’s launch on April 19, volunteers tested the process by sending letters to major telecommunications providers.

At a press conference held at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on May 6, hosted by CUHK’s Assistant Professor Lokman Tsui with the School of Journalism and Communication in collaboration with In Media Hong Kong and Keyboard Frontline, researchers said that the response from the telecommunications companies was not satisfactory, as despite responding in 40 days, they failed to disclose the requested information, such as whether geolocations and IP addresses had been shared with third parties.

Watch the Access My Info HK demo video:

In-Media’s Advocacy Officer Yu Yeeting said that only two companies, Hong Kong Broadband and Hong Kong Telecom, had replied in writing explaining why the requested information could not be provided. The rest responded over phone, despite being  requiring to provide a written response by law. The Access My Info Hong Kong application has drawn over 770 requests since its launch in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Legislative Council member Claudia Mo Man-ching said at the press conference that the application served to empower citizens to exercise their personal privacy rights, simplifying what would otherwise be a complicated process.

At the press conference, Citizen Lab Postdoctoral Fellow Parsons added that in Canada, thousands of customers generated requests to their telecommunications providers using the original version of Access My Info. “Access My Info helped push Canadian telecom companies to publish transparency reports for the first time and raise citizen awareness of data protection and rights,” he said.

Read the full Hong Kong Free Press article, or further media coverage by Quartz.

Roundtable Poster - 6May2016