1. Generally speaking, under what circumstances can a person ask me to provide my ID card number or ID card copy?
ID card number
Unless authorized by law, no data user may compel an individual to provide his or her ID card number. A data user may request an individual to provide his or her ID card number under the circumstances where the collection of the ID card number is permitted by the Code. The following list contains some daily examples (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Where there is an Ordinance which requires data users to collect ID card numbers, e.g. section 17K of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) requires employers to keep a record of the number of the document, which is usually an ID card, by virtue of which each employee is lawfully employable.
- Where the use of the ID card number is necessary for any of the purposes mentioned in section 58(1) of the Ordinance, which includes the prevention or detection of crime, and the assessment or collection of any tax or duty.
- To enable the data user to identify the individual concerned or to attribute data to him or her where any of the following is necessary:
- to advance the interests of the individual, e.g. to ensure that the correct medical record is referred to when treating a patient;
- to prevent any third party other than the data user from suffering a detriment, e.g. to ensure that someone else is not given the wrong medication because the wrong medical record is referred to;
- to enable the data user to safeguard against damage or loss that is more than trivial, e.g. drivers involved in a traffic accident may exchange ID card number in order to identify each other when pursuing a claim arising from the accident.
- For inclusion in a document that establishes or is evidence of any legal or equitable right or interest or legal liability that is not trivial, e.g. in documents that establish an individual's right of ownership of a flat.
- As the means of future identification of an individual who is permitted to enter premises where monitoring of the activities of the individual inside the premises is not reasonably practicable, e.g. entry to a commercial building outside office hours.
- As a condition for allowing an individual to have custody or control of property which is of a value that is more than trivial, e.g. rent a flat or car.
ID card copy
Again, no data user may compel an individual to provide a copy of his or her ID card unless authorized by law. A data user may request an individual to provide a copy of his or her ID card under the circumstances where the collection of the copy is permitted by the Code. The following list contains some daily examples (this is not an exhaustive list):
- To carry out any of the purposes mentioned in section 58(1) of the Ordinance, which includes the prevention or detection of crime, and the assessment or collection of any tax or duty.
- To provide proof of compliance with any statutory requirement, e.g. an employer may collect a copy of an ID card to prove compliance with the requirement of section 17J of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap.115) to inspect the ID card of an individual when the employer intends to confirm the employment of that person.
- To comply with a requirement to collect an ID card copy which is included in any code, rules, regulations or guidelines applicable to the data user and which requirement has been endorsed in writing by the Privacy Commissioner, e.g. banks may collect copies of the ID cards of their customers according to the Money Laundering Guidelines issued by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
- To collect or check the ID card number of the individual, but only if the individual has been given the choice of presenting his or her ID card in person instead (e.g. Transport Department is permitted to collect copies of ID cards for this purpose in relation to applications for driving licences made by post, as individuals are given the choice of presenting their ID cards in person).
- For the issuing of an officially recognised travel document, e.g. the BN(O) passport.
Collection of copies of ID cards is specifically NOT permitted in the Code under the following circumstances:
- merely to safeguard against a clerical error in recording the name or ID card number of the individual (i.e. the copy should not be collected in order only to enable the person to check the accuracy of the record that has been made of the individuals name or ID card number); or
- merely in anticipation of a prospective relationship with the individual (e.g. it would not be permissible for an employer to collect a copy of the ID card of an individual only because the employer may wish to offer him or her employment at a later stage).