Mainland China and Hong Kong announced a standard contract for cross-border flow of personal information to achieve seamless cross-border data flow in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

The "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Standard Contract for Cross-border Flow of Personal Information" (Greater Bay Area Standard Contract) was officially released today on 13 December 2023, marking the establishment of cross-border data collaboration in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. This legally binding contract clause is to achieve the orderly flow of cross-border data proposed in the "Cooperation Memorandum on Promoting Cross-border Data Flow in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area" signed by the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Governments on 29 June, 2023. 

Seamless cross-border data connectivity is critical for the GBA to realise its huge economic growth potential. Cross-jurisdictional data policies will bring more cross-border benefits, such as enhancing knowledge exchange, expanding economies of scale, coordinating resource allocation, improving administrative efficiency, improving daily business transactions and providing more convenience in life.

The Greater Bay Area Standard Contract exempts the quantity limit on the flow of personal information, simplifies the requirements for personal information protection impact assessment, and speeds up the inspection time of the filing process. Other notable features include existing definitions and classifications of personal information across regulatory regimes, without mandating a unified definition. By incorporating a common vocabulary, the initiative serves to bridge previous differences in data categories across jurisdictions in a way that embraces diversity of definitions. In this way, each jurisdiction can maintain its own definitions while achieving harmonization among definitions. In addition, the GBA Standard Contract designates Hong Kong supervisory authorities to manage data received by institutions within their jurisdiction, resolving uncertainty over enforcement powers.

The Greater Bay Area Standard Contract is based on the principle of individual consent and on a voluntary basis. Before providing any personal information to cross-border recipients, personal information processors shall comply with applicable local laws and regulations. Before the cross-border transfer of personal information, the consent of the personal information subject must be obtained.

"We have been promoting the cross-border data flow between the Mainland and Hong Kong for many years, and we are very excited to see this major progress today. The Greater Bay Area Standard Contract significantly reduces compliance costs for companies doing business in the Greater Bay Area."  Yang Debin, founding chairman of the Big Data Governance Association and chairman of the Greater Bay Area International Information Technology Association said. 

As technology rapidly evolves, fully optimizing broader data governance policies requires ongoing collaboration.  "The Greater Bay Area Standard Contract is a good starting point. In the future, continued cooperation with regulatory agencies is required, which is crucial to formulating a unified framework for the future and maintaining Hong Kong's status as an international data hub." Yang Debin said.

The Greater Bay Area Standard Contract represents the substantial progress that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has made in jointly promoting the region as a comprehensive regional science and technology innovation centre.

This article was a translation from Bauhinia Magazine 紫荆. If there is any inconsistency or ambiguity between the English version and Chinese version, the latter one shall prevail. The full text of the article, in Chinese, can be found below:


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