Following is a question by the Hon Sin Chung-kai and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Frederick Ma, in the Legislative Council today (March 12):
The Government has indicated that it will review the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (Cap. 390) (the Ordinance) this year and consult the public in this regard. On the other hand, concerning the recent incidents of indecent photos on the Internet purported to be of artistes, there have been comments calling for the Government to draw up, during the interim period before the above review is completed or the Ordinance is amended, guidelines and codes on the handling of obscene articles for the information technology sector. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will draw up such guidelines and codes during the above interim period; if it will, of the legal effect of such guidelines and codes, and how it ensures that the drawing up of such guidelines and codes prior to the above public consultation exercise will not infringe public rights?
The Government is conducting a comprehensive review of the provisions in the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (Cap 390), and plans to consult the public in the second half of 2008 on ways to amend the Ordinance in order to keep pace with the development of our society.
The Government has no plans to draw up any guidelines or codes that has legal effect under the Ordinance before the review is completed or the Ordinance is amended. However, to help equip the public with some general knowledge about the proper use of the Internet, for instance, good on-line practices and related legislations, we have published a set of guidelines on "Acceptable Use of Internet" on the Government's InfoSec website (www.infosec.gov.hk). The guidelines, which are meant to provide reference for the public, are not legally binding. In the light of the recent public concern over the dissemination of information on the Internet, the Government is considering with the information technology sector how to update the guidelines, e.g. to include some relevant cases in our daily lives and frequently asked questions, so as to provide the industry and the public with more information about computer or cyber crimes.
Ends/Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:49