Data Protection Officer Hong Kong: Do You Need One?

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Data protection officers are very helpful when it comes to ensuring that your business is following government laws. However, not all countries need a DPO.

For those who have Hong Kong consumers, you may be wondering, “Do Hong Kong data laws require a data protection officer in Hong Kong?” You may be surprised to know that Hong Kong’s PDPO does not require a DPO under its ordinance.

With that said, should you still hire a DPO for your businesses in Hong Kong? In this article, we will provide insights for you to consider whether or not hiring a DPO for your business should be considered despite not being required by the PDPO.

Let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

Hong Kong PDPO data regulation laws affect both private and public sector businesses under its ordinance. DPOs are not required to ensure compliance but are encouraged to avoid potential instances of non-compliance, which can cost you a lot of money.

If your business resides in Hong Kong, you can choose whether to hire a DPO or not. Factors to consider should be the type of data processed, your knowledge of the PDPO laws, and how comfortable you are with the risk of non-compliance occurring.

The penalties that come from non-compliance under the PDPO can be very costly for a business. In most cases, it would be more cost-effective to hire a DPO to avoid those potential risks of penalties.

What is the Hong Kong PDPO?

Hong Kong PDPO 2024 Comprehensive Guide.jpg

Hong Kong PDPO 2024 Comprehensive Guide.jpg

In Hong Kong, the PDPO (also known as the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance) is a data privacy law that regulates the collection, use, processing and disclosure of personal information data.

The data protection law was first introduced in 1995 and took into full effect in December 1996. It was created as a response to the demand for better data regulatory restrictions to be placed on businesses that were collecting personal information data without providing consent to its data subjects.

The scope of the PDPO is broad in that it applies to both private and public sectors in the jurisdiction of Hong Kong. All data users in Hong Kong are given data protection rights and can challenge both the public and private sectors to develop compliance methods according to PDPO laws.

What is a Data Protection Officer?

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What is a Data Protection Officer.jpg

A data protection officer (also known as a DPO) is an individual whose role within a business is to ensure that the data processing activities are being done in accordance with the data regulation laws.

The data protection officer is important for businesses because ensures compliance through DPIAs and measures towards compliance with the PDPO data protection principles. Their responsibility is to also stay up to date on data laws, as well as educate and inform the business what needs to be changed in order to achieve compliance.

Typically, DPOs work in businesses that are involved in dealing with large quantities of personal and sensitive data. Some examples that you would expect them to be in are large corporations, healthcare facilities, e-commerce platforms, and government agencies.

With that said, DPOs aren’t strictly limited to those types of businesses. They can work in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. As mentioned, any business that has large amounts of data processing activity will fall under the PDPO and its data protection laws.

Data Protection Officer Hong Kong Requirement

Data protection officers are not mandatory for businesses to have under the PDPO. However, assigning an expert to the role of DPO is still highly encouraged by the PDPO for any business that has large amounts of personal data processing activities.

Additionally, most data protection laws, like the GDPR, mandate that all businesses that engage in sensitive or high-volume data-collecting processes assign a DPO in place.

The benefits of a DPO can be very substantial. They can greatly assist in data protection measures to avoid breaking compliance. Activities such as DPIAs, collecting informed consent, security measures, responding to requests, and even employee training can all be attributed to a skilled DPO.

Should You Get a Data Protection Officer Under PDPO Hong Kong?

Despite not being required to have a DPO, consider finding a candidate for this role in your business. The reason is that they offer a wide array of benefits to your business. Below are some factors for you to consider as to why you should hire a DPO role for your business.

Sensitivity & Amount of Data Handled

Any business or establishment that handles sensitive data should absolutely consider hiring a DPO to avoid potential penalties from the PDPO and other major data protection laws.

Mistreatment of personal information, especially sensitive data, can lead to major fines and penalties from the PDPO.

Hiring a DPO can help establish business policies that align with the PDPO requirements and look at the data processing activities to ensure that your business is compliant to avoid any disasters that could cause the PDPO to get involved.

The Amount of Time You Have

As the business grows and expands, it becomes more challenging to have to rely on yourself or others to have to manage all the tasks that come with it.

The solution? Hire more employees for designated roles. In this case, with data handling and processing, hiring a DPO can significantly elevate the stresses that are involved in mainatinng compliance through business policies.

A DPO could also help train other employees, as well as assist with other administrative tasks if needed.

Your Knowledge of PDPO

Let’s face it. If you’re not knowledgeable of the PDPO and its regulations, then how do you expect your business to be compliant?

Knowledge of the PDPO is very important to maintain compliance, but as a business owner, it can be overwhelming to try to make an expert of yourself on the topic when you are trying to work on other tasks

The DPO can step in and do that work for you. They will inform you on what policies to implement, as well as do the data processing monitoring needed to ensure that your business is operating under PDPO compliance.

Risk Tolerance

Not having a DPO or knowledge of the PDPO principles can impose risks on your business due to the sensitive nature of handling personal and sensitive data.

Not being mandated to hire a DPO means that, as a business owner, you could choose to take the calculated risks involved with handling data. Businesses that are doing compliance on their own face risk if they don’t have expertise in the law and don’t have time to keep up with the law.

DPOs, however, are trained in all things compliance, from utilizing data protection impact assessments (also known as DPIAs) to ensuring requests for access or correction of data get answered. They can greatly help your business make informed decisions on the risks that could be involved in doing certain activities and processing.

DPOs aren’t cheap to hire, though. In instances, it may be tempting to want to take risks to help reduce costs, especially if your business is not bringing in enough revenue. Whatever your choice may be, just be aware failing to be compliant could be more costly compared to hiring a DPO.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with the Hong Kong PDPO

If your business is not complying with the PDPO, chances are you will face major fines and penalties that could ultimately be the demise of your business.

The fines and penalties vary depending on the type of compliance that was not followed and the severity of the issue. For instance, failing to address a data subject’s right to data deletions can lead to a fine of HK$10,000 per violation, while failing to inform a data breach can be upwards of HK$100,000 per violation.

You could also potentially face prison time of up to two years for non-compliance.

Additionally, the damage to your business reputation is enough to cause long-term problems for you down the line.

If you wish to mitigate the risks of your business being non-compliant, then consider hiring a DPO to help guarantee your business compliance with the PDPO.


Hong Kong’s PDPO data privacy laws are strict when it comes to their principle. While hiring a DPO is not mandatory, it can help your business avoid the harsh penalties that can come with non-compliance.

It’s always wise to have an expert on data protection laws on your side. Here at Captain Compliance, we offer outsourced data protection services to business owners who need assistance in implementing policies that allow them to operate under their county’s data protection laws.

Get in touch with one of our experts today to ensure your compliance with Hong Kong’s PDPO!


Does Hong Kong have a data protection law?

Yes, Hong Kong’s data protection law is known as the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance (PDPO). The PDPO was established with the intent of creating laws that regulate all data processing activities for both public and private sectors.

Read more about data localization laws in our article here.

How do I become a certified DPO?

Becoming a certified DPO will require you to pursue an educational background related to the field, such as computer science or IT. You will also need to have an interest in data protection laws and regulations in order to excel as a DPO. Some schools may offer an internship position for those who are learning.

Learn more about a DPO’s responsibility for schools in our article.

Do all companies need a DPO data protection officer?

No, depending on the scope of the business, you may not be required to hire a DPO. Businesses that reach a certain threshold from data collected and how much they profited from that data are typically required to hire a DPO in most region’s laws.

Find out if your business needs a DPO in our article explaining the criteria.

What is the penalty for not having a DPO?

Some countries will have penalties and fines for businesses that do not have a DPO. For PDPO, your business will not have a penalty for assigning one. However, your business will accept full responsibility for breaking any compliance law in that country.

Need to implement a compliance risk management framework for your business? Click here for more info.

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