Local media are reporting that the Land Registry will be the next public database to restrict public access, after the Company Registry.
According to media reports, the administration is reviewing search arrangements for the Land Registry, citing privacy concerns.
The move to restrict access to the Company Registry was met with alarm by journalists’ groups and unionists as they expressed concern about transparency and accountability.
The Liber Research Community, an independent NGO which has made use of the database to conduct research into land supply and housing policy issues, said civil society would suffer if similar restrictions are to be placed on the Land Registry.
“The transparency of land data, including the titles and transfer of ownership of private land in Hong Kong, is very important for civil society and also research groups to investigate changes about the land ownership in various parts of Hong Kong,” said the group’s Brian Wong.
“That will reveal a lot about the activities of the property developers in snapping up the land and hording these valuable resources.
“Only through this channel could we know about what’s actually happening there; without this information such kinds of investigation or research would be impossible.”
Wong said he was worried that authorities could accuse them of acting illegally by creating new administrative arrangements or additional terms and conditions.
“We don’t think it’s a fair move, because supposedly this kind of information should be public data. It should be open to public scrutiny,” he told RTHK's Richard Pyne.
Wong pointed out that the Land Registry is a vital tool for them to corroborate data from other sources.
“This would help us to arrive at a very solid conclusion. But without this kind of verification, then our argument would be much weaker and civil society and research groups would lose a very valuable tool in arguing for improvements to land and housing policies."