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Cyber Security Legislation Proposed in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Government is carrying out the preparatory work to clearly define the cyber security obligations of critical infrastructure operators through legislation, to strengthen the cyber security of this infrastructure in Hong Kong.

The Secretary for Innovation & Technology made the remarks in the Legislative Council recently, saying that a public consultation exercise is expected to be launched by the end of this year. He emphasised that critical infrastructure is of great significance to the normal operation of society. If information systems, networks or computer systems are disrupted or sabotaged, the operation of major facilities may be affected and this will seriously jeopardise the economy, people’s livelihood, public safety and even national security.

Noting that the increase in cyberattacks in recent years has brought substantial challenges to the cyber security of critical infrastructure around the world, the official noted that Hong Kong does not have specific legal requirements on the cyber security of such infrastructure.

Therefore, in addition to industry best practices as well as guidelines and requirements on cyber security imposed by individual regulatory authorities, the Government is making preparations to clearly define the cyber security obligations of critical infrastructure operators through legislation to enhance the cyber security of critical infrastructure in the city.

It will also refer to the cyber security standards adopted worldwide and by other jurisdictions in formulating relevant standards. The government emphasised that it has been closely monitoring the trends of cyber attacks and the associated security threats around the globe.

The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has formulated a comprehensive set of Government IT Security Policy & Guidelines which are reviewed and updated regularly. All bureaus and departments must strictly abide by the policy and guidelines to ensure the security of government data and information systems. Moreover, government websites and systems have adopted multiple layers of security measures to detect, block and tackle different types of security threats.

The Secretary for Innovation & Technology made further comments in the Legislative Council meeting and stated that in the past five years, the current-term Government has unprecedentedly invested over $150 billion to support I&T development. Various initiatives are gradually taking effect, and the overall I&T ecosystem is becoming more vibrant. For example, the gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R&D) has increased by more than 45 per cent in the past five years; the number of start-ups rose from around 1 500 in 2015 to around 4 000 in 2021; the venture capital investment substantially increased from $3.4 billion to over $40 billion during the period. The region also saw the establishment of over 10 unicorns in the same period.

In the 2021 Policy Address and 2022-23 Budget, the Government has put forward several future-focused and groundbreaking initiatives. In terms of land supply, having regard to the continuous increase in Hong Kong’s demand for land dedicated to scientific research and advanced industries, the Government is continuing to increase infrastructure, including consolidating the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HSITP) in the Lok Ma Chau Loop and the areas around Lok Ma Chau/San Tin to form the San Tin Technopole, building landmark I&T facilities with a scale comparable to Cyberport in Lau Fau Shan, reviving the Ma Liu Shui reclamation project, planning for the construction of the second Advanced Manufacturing Centre, etc.

In this way, the HKSAR Government is working to boost various I&T infrastructures across the region in a bid to future-proof Hong Kong.

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