Two journalists from media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying’s Next Magazine appeared in court on Monday after they were prosecuted for disclosing a copy of the birth certificate of one of actress Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi’s three sons.
Answering the summons in Kwun Tong court on Monday afternoon, Next Digital Limited, Element 5 Digital Limited, Mak King-hing, 47, and Cheung Ching, 40, were accused of breaching the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
Mak, the magazine editor, shared a charge of “disclosing personal data of a data subject which was obtained from a data user without data user’s consent” with the two companies. Both firms are owned by Lai.
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The offence carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of HK$1 million.
Mak, together with the companies, is accused of disclosing a child’s personal data contained in a certificate copy of an entry in a Register of Birth under the Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance on January 28, 2019, with an intent to obtain gain in money or other property.
Cheung, whose job title was not disclosed in court, was charged with one count of “aiding and abetting” the disclosure of the personal data involved in the same event.
Both Mak and Cheung Ching said they understood the charges.
Their lawyers sought to adjourn the case for six weeks. The application was agreed by the prosecutor and was granted by Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei.
Chui said the defendants would enter a plea when they returned to court on April 12.
Outside the court, the prosecutor said he would apply for anonymity for the child.
Cheung Pak-chi lodged a complaint about the publishing of her son’s birth certificate in an issue of Next Magazine in January 2019 to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, which later passed the case onto police.
The Immigration Department tightened searches for birth, death or marriage records after receiving the complaint.
Now, applicants need authorisation from the data owner. In processing an applicant’s request, the department will also consider the purpose and intended use of the search result.
The 40-year-old actress was married to local pop singer Nicholas Tse Ting-fung between 2006 and 2011. They have two sons.
This article Journalists working for Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai in court over publication of birth certificate for youngest son of actress Cecilia Cheung first appeared on South China Morning Post