英文

Editorial:Loopholes of LeaveHomeSafe Necessitate Its Overhaul

【明報專訊】Another person related to the cluster of COVID-19 infections at the Moon Palace restaurant has been diagnosed with the disease. Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan has stated that the government has successfully tracked down most of those who dined in at the same time as the patient and has sent them to a quarantine centre. However, there are still about 30 diners who have not been found. The reason is that the LeaveHomeSafe app that the government relies on cannot track down those who do not report themselves voluntarily.

The origin of the local infections linked to Moon Palace was an aircrew member of Cathay Pacific. Despite being exempt from quarantine upon returning to Hong Kong, he went about the city in violation of medical surveillance regulations. His visit to an eatery resulted in the infection of diners sitting 10 metres away, even with the presence of a separating screen. Now it is alleged that the infections were caused by the improper installation of air purifiers. In late February last year, a similar incident occurred in a restaurant at Tsim Sha Tsui's K11 Musea, resulting in the infection of 50 people. The government ordered all restaurants to install air purifiers. Now that the cause of the failure of the air purifiers installed at Moon Palace has been found, the issue needs to be given proper regard.

Despite the restaurant's installation of air purifiers following the government's instructions, they have failed to stop the spread of the virus effectively. Professor Yuen Kwok-yung believes that the air purifiers might have been installed at wrong locations. The incident has once again exposed the fact that the government's anti-pandemic measures are worse than reactive. Since the issue of the instructions in March last year, has the government ever reviewed the effectiveness of the installation of air purifiers? Has it ever made inspections to measure the directions and scopes of possible viral infections in restaurants? The mere issuance of instructions—unaccompanied by the conduct of regular reviews and data which would enable improvement—has caused a repeat of the K11 incident at Moon Palace.

When the government introduced the LeaveHomeSafe app, the biggest scepticism it encountered was the issue of privacy protection. Therefore, the government adopted the most ''extreme'' approach, leaving the public to do everything ''voluntarily''. It is indeed necessary to protect privacy, and the citizens' concerns are reasonable. However, the principle of privacy protection is the use of strict and effective measures to convince citizens that their personal data will be protected even if it is obtained and stored.

Such protective measures include clearly defining the responsibilities and limitations of the authority of data controllers and data processors, determining who has the right to obtain which part of one's private information, what confidentiality measures are taken in the procedure, as well as the measures concerning the storage of information and its duration. There are strict regulations concerning these matters in Hong Kong's laws, and members of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data have a set of professional and detailed rules and regulations for execution, together with a mechanism for oversight. However, regarding the LeaveHomeSafe app, the government has not taken the initiative to announce various protection measures to persuade the public to trust this system. Instead, it has abandoned this effective system, making it impossible for the LeaveHomeSafe app to perform its best functions.

Now that government expert advisers have criticised the tracking function of the app, the SAR government should explain how it could improve the problem in the future. If the fifth wave of COVID-19 breaks out on a wide scale, it will indeed be necessary to put in place a thorough reform of the tracking function of the app. The SAR government should also prepare a set of recommendations and try its best to convince the public to accept it, so as to effectively stop the spread of the virus and minimise the harm of a large-scale infection.

明報社評 2022.1.3:安心出行顯漏洞 徹底改革此其時

望月樓及相關群組再添一人確診,食物及衛生局長陳肇始表示,政府已成功追蹤大部分與患者於相同時段在該處用膳的食客,並將他們送往檢疫中心。然而,還有約30名食客仍沒找到,究其原因,是政府所依賴的安心出行,未能追蹤到非自願「現身」者。

望月樓出現本地感染,始作俑者是國泰機組人員返港後獲得豁免隔離,卻又違規四處游走,令到同一餐廳相隔10米且有屏風阻隔的其他食客也被感染。現在被指是由於空氣淨化機安裝不到位所引起,去年2月底,尖沙嘴K11食肆發生類似事件,令到50人確診,政府下令所有食肆都要安裝空氣淨化機,現在發現空氣淨化機失靈的原因,需要認真檢視。

食肆依照指示安裝空氣淨化機,卻未能有效阻截病毒傳播,袁國勇教授認為可能是安裝位置不對。再次暴露出政府的防疫措施,不但只是見招拆招,政府發出指示,自去年3月至今,有沒有檢討過安裝空氣淨化機的成效,有沒有巡查量度病毒在食肆內可能傳播的方向與範圍?只顧發出指示,不做定期檢討,缺乏數據從而改善指引,造成望月樓重蹈K11的覆轍。

政府在推出安心出行的時候,遇到最大的質疑是私隱保護問題,所以政府採取了最「極端」的做法,撒手讓市民一切「自願」。保護私隱確實有必要,市民的擔憂也是合情合理,然而,保護私隱的原則是用嚴格有效措施去令市民相信其個人資料是即使被獲取及儲存都會得到保護。

保護的措施包括,明確界定資料控管者(data controller)、資料處理者(data processor)的責任與權限,誰有權獲得個人信息的哪些部分,處理過程中有何保密措施,並且界定儲存的措施和期限。香港法律對此有嚴格規管,個人資料私隱專員有專業的執行細則與監督機制。可是,特區政府對於安心出行,不主動公布各種保護措施,說服市民信任這套系統,而是放棄這套有效的系統,導致安心出行無法發揮最佳功能。

而今政府專家顧問對追蹤功能提出批評,特區政府應該給出解釋,今後如何改善。如果第五波大規模爆發,確實需要在追蹤功能方面徹底改革,特區政府也應該準備好一套建議,盡量說服市民接受,做到有效阻截病毒傳播,將大規模感染的傷害降到最低。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

allege:to state sth as a fact but without giving proof

reactive:reacting to events or situations rather than acting first to change or prevent sth

confidentiality:a situation in which you expect sb to keep information secret

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

上 / 下一篇新聞