Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Voter receives suspicious phone calls, suggests link to lost election computers

A voter has received suspicious phone calls following the loss of election computers which contained personal information of all voters. But the government has said the lost computers did not contain phone numbers.

The person, Mr A, was a voter in the functional constituency representing the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sector. Before the Legislative Council election in September 2016, he signed a consent of support form for pro-democracy candidate Adrian Chow Pok-yin, who ran in the sector but lost.

The form allows candidates to use the signatories’ information for election ads. It does not require phone numbers.

Lam Cheuk-ting

Lam Cheuk-ting and Mr A. Photo: Democratic Party.

The Registration and Electoral Office (REO) recently lost two election laptops, which stored personal information of all 3.78 million Hong Kong voters. The incident was uncovered a day after the chief executive election.

Mr A said he received a call, also a day after the election, from a woman who spoke Cantonese with a mainland accent and claimed to be from a “Hong Kong Research Group.”

The woman said the call was for an academic study on past voting preferences. Mr A said the caller knew his name, and the form he signed for candidate Chow.

“She asked me why I supported Adrian Chow, but not the candidate endorsed by the business association I belonged to. I said Chow was a better candidate,” said Mr A. The caller also asked for his voting preference in the chief executive election committee poll last December.

Adrian Chow

Adrian Chow. File Photo: Stand News.

Mr A then received four more calls, some of which were from a man, including one on his home phone number.

“Only my relatives, primary and secondary classmates, long time friends and the REO knew that number,” he said.

Mr A said he felt the incident was strange as polls on the elections should not be done such a long time after it concluded.

His mother also received a call on Wednesday asking whether she knew Mr A. He also said one other man in his industry had reported similar calls.

Lam Cheuk-ting

Lam Cheuk-ting and Mr A. Photo: Democratic Party.

Mr A was concerned if the incident was related to the loss of election laptops and sought help from Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting.

Lam said the timing coincided with the loss, but he was not sure if the lost information was used.

“But the objective effect was that pressure was created upon voters,” he said. “If there was such intention, it was white terror.”

Lam urged the REO, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and the Independent Commission Against Corruption to take follow-up action.

The REO said no phone numbers or voting records of electors were stored on the two missing laptops. It added it is a criminal offence for a person to ask electors to disclose the names of the candidates they voted for.

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Voter receives suspicious phone calls, suggests link to lost election computers