Officials have shied away from saying whether or not Beijing's Office for Safeguarding National Security can demand access to the SAR government's confidential documents in a new electronic record-keeping system.
Lawmakers sitting at Legco's finance committee meeting on Monday were discussing whether to set aside HK$1.2 billion to develop an electronic record-keeping system for the administration.
Pro-government lawmakers, like Lo Wai-kwok and Elizabeth Quat, supported the move, saying it's time the administration went digital in keeping records.
But their pan-democrat colleagues questioned how the system will operate under the new national security law.
Labour Party's Fernando Cheung asked if the security law office can request government departments to hand over confidential documents stored in the system.
In response, Bobby Cheng, deputy director of administration said they will manage the files in accordance with Hong Kong laws.
Democratic Party's Wu Chi-wai said the authorities are only playing down fears that people's privacy will be compromised, saying that existing privacy laws are being "jeopardised by the national security law already".
"They keep saying that the privacy of the people will still be kept under the existing law, but the existing law has already been overridden by the national security law," Wu said.
Council Front's Chu Hoi-dick also asked if the security law office has powers to amend or delete the records, to which the government's chief information officer Victor Lam responded that only authorised officers at various departments can do so.
Lam stressed that they're following international practice, and any changes made to the files will be recorded, but he didn't say if the security law office has the same right to delete government files.
If approved by lawmakers, the e-system is expected to go into full-scale operation for 75 departments or bureaux by the end of 2025.