HKU Explores Further on Use of Big Data and Its Impact

The Law and Technology Centre (the “Centre”) of The University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law had the pleasure to host the Workshop: Big Data and Privacy on 30 November 2015. The Workshop was part of a collaborative research project on Big Data and Privacy by Professor Anne SY Cheung of the Centre and Professor Wolfgang Schulz of the University of Hamburg. It was supported by the Germany-Hong Kong (“DAAD”) Research Grant.

Revolutionary means of generating and processing voluminous and diverse data sets across different sectors are constantly being developed, with big data increasingly being employed in business, governance and social life. While big data has the potential to add immense social and economic value and serve the common good, it also impacts on the privacy of individuals and challenges the effectiveness of traditional legal frameworks for data protection.

As solutions to many of these data privacy issues remain obscure, speakers from the University of Hamburg, Germany, Academic Sinica, Taiwan, and HKU (not only from the Faculty of Law, but also from the Faculty of Social Science, the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics) gathered to discuss these weighty issues. In addition to having input from academics, the Workshop also had speakers from regulatory body, the IT industry and a private law firm, including the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, Microsoft and Winston & Strawn LLP.

Speakers reviewed the challenges that Big Data has posed for business, medical and healthcare providers and social movements. Furthermore, it also explored privacy implications and data protection measures in data-driven businesses, including profiling, monitoring and predictive analysis. Rather than providing ready solutions, the workshop aimed to shed light on our understanding of the desirable use of Big Data. Legal developments in Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, Germany and the European Union were discussed.

The Centre is a joint Centre of the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Law at HKU. Its mission is to provide public service in the interdisciplinary area of information technology and law, and to advance research in the relationships between information technology and law.

Work of the Centre encompasses all aspects of information technology and law, including the computerisation of legal information on the Internet, intellectual property, data privacy and computer forensics. It works closely with the Centre for Information Security and Cryptography of the Department of Computer Science, which specialises in developing technologies relating to digital signature, data security and digital evidence.

For more information on The Law and Technology Centre, please go to http://www.lawtech.hk/. Information of the Workshop can be viewed at http://www.lawtech.hk/bigdata2015/.