Under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (“PDPO”) there are restrictions upon data users intending to use the collected personal data of a data subject in direct marketing who must take action at the time of collection to inform the data subject of this potential use with explicit information on aspects of the intended use and restriction upon any such use without the consent of the data subject.  If consent is oral then the data user must within 14 days send the written confirmation to the data subject confirming the orally received consent and related characteristics of the data consented to.

A practice in the signing up by data users operating Dating Apps in collecting large amounts of personal data from subscribing data subjects has developed to include in their Terms and Conditions an automatically pre-set permission to use the personal data of the subscribing data subject for direct marketing or advertising purposes with only a very few collecting data user Dating App service providers expressly permitting the data subject to opt out of the marketing and advertising use purpose of the submission and provision of the personal data.

Obviously enough, data subjects applying to the Dating App data user service provider have no interest in authorizing the use of their personal data for direct marketing purposes but, rather, simply to gain access to the services of the data user service provider in the context made available through the Dating App.

The Hong Kong Consumer Council, an advisory monitor of outreach to Hong Kong consumers whether in real time or virtual media has found that the permission to use personal data for direct marketing purposes completely outside the strict Dating App use purpose was set as a default function to all the Dating App subscriptions.  The public has accordingly been advised to be well aware of this default consent mechanism to the use of personal data use for direct marketing as an adjunctive covert function of the submission of the personal data for the Dating App user without clear knowledge and information required to be submitted by the data user to the data subject as required by the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

Accordingly, in order to enable data user potential subscribers to the Dating App service the Consumer Council advises that before registering for an account with the Data App data user service provider the data subject should refer to the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy of the Dating App data user to review these documents for clear details of how the personal data will be handled.  If such review influences a possible reluctance of the data subject to proceed with the Dating App subscription for allowance of personal data for marketing or promotional purposes the potential data subject should check whether the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy allow for and provide for an opt-out setting further ensuring that any automatic renewal mechanism in the subscription service should be well noted and recorded in order to enable the prevent of any automatic renewal.