ong Kong’s Hospital Authority has been accused of facilitating the arrest of hospitalized protesters by providing a secret backdoor for patient information to police.
Following last Wednesday’s clashes between police and protesters outside of the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, at least four demonstrators were arrested at the city’s hospitals while receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the skirmishes in which police used tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets.
According to Dr. Pierre Chan, a lawmaker representing the healthcare sector, the arrests alarmed some emergency room doctors and nurses who investigated how police were able to locate protesters and happened upon an alleged software backdoor to the patient database which could be accessed without a login and was purportedly designed by the head office of the Hospital Authority, which manages all government hospitals in Hong Kong.
As evidence, at a press conference on Monday, Chan held up a sheet of personal information for 76 emergency room patients in the direct aftermath of the clash. One group of patients was categorized under the heading “mass gathering outside Legco” and the page was marked with the words “For Police.”
BREAKING: Lawmaker confirms Hong Kong Hospital Authority has shared injured protesters’ information with police to facilitate arrests. The act is not only unconscionable and a breach of patient privacy, it’s also dangerous by discouraging the injured from seeking medical help. pic.twitter.com/1xAio2DtRs
— Jason Y. Ng (@jasonyng) June 17, 2019
The Hospital Authority soon held its own press conference, denying handing over any information to police and claiming that its data system could only be accessed by medical staff.
Hong Kong police commissioner also dismissed the accusation, stating that all the arrests were made as part of regular police work resulting from officers being stationed at public hospitals.