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Digi-Sign and Guangdong Electronic Certification Authority cooperate on "Unified-Cert" Service

Digi-Sign Certification Services Limited(Digi-Sign) announced today the cooperation with Guangdong Electronic Certification Authority (GDCA) on the "Unified-Cert" service, which makes it possible for residents based in Mainland China to procure both the Digi-Sign ID-Cert and the digital certificate of GDCA in one single application. The new service is expected to bring the level of online transactions between the two places to a new height.

Digi-Sign Certification Services Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tradelink. It is the first private Certification Authority recognized by the Hong Kong SAR Government under the Electronic Transactions Ordinance. Branded ID-Cert, the digital certificates issued by Digi-Sign can be used to authenticate a wide range of trade transactions online including government transactions, internet banking, legal document service, online stock trading, online betting service, etc. So far, over 170,000 ID-Certs have been issued.

Guangdong CA, established in 2000, is the certification authority approved by the Guangdong provincial government. The Guangdong CA digital certificate, about 180,000 have been issued so far, has been widely adopted as a trusted and secure solution for online applications such as tax submission, trade declarations, electronic tendering and purchasing as well as several major e-government development projects.

Justin Yue, Chairman of Digi-Sign, said, "The cooperation between GDCA and Digi-Sign has expanded the scope of the use of digital certificates. Customers in Hong Kong and Guangdong can now benefit from a trusted and secure solution to conduct online transactions. At the same time, it also promotes further the facilitation of trade and the development of e-commerce between the two places."

Mr. Yin Guan Xin, director of GDCA, said, "Both Hong Kong and Guangdong have established their respective Electronic Transaction Ordinance (ETO), which provides a legal framework enabling electronic records and digital signatures to enjoy legal recognitions similar to their paper-based counterparts. This legal framework will also act as a common platform for further cooperation between GDCA and Digi-Sign. The joint "Unified-Cert" service, which brings to customers a convenient and reliable authentication service, will certainly leads to an increase of online activities between Hong Kong and Guangdong."

Customers who are Mainland residents in possession of valid travel documents to Hong Kong or Hong Kong Identity Card holders are eligible to apply the "Unified-Cert" with a validity of 2 years. For details, please visit the websites of Digi-Sign ( or GDCA (

Privacy as Defined Today

Justice Brandeis' definition of being "let alone" no longer adequately defines the concept of privacy in the 21st Century Cyber Age. The modern definition of privacy therefore needs to also include ‘the right to control our personal information, even after we disclose it to others.’ ( Therefore, a contemporary definition of privacy also needs to include the concept of personal data protection in which an individual has the right to control the flow and access of information and data related to his/her personal details. Professor Raymond Wacks sums up this modern concept of privacy by arguing that ".... at the heart of our concern to protect 'privacy' lies a desire, perhaps even a need, to prevent information about us being known to others without our consent." (Wacks 1996)

Modern technology clearly poses new and increasing threats to this broader definition privacy. As a US Privacy Protection Study Commission argued, "The real danger (posed to privacy by the Information Age) is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through the automation, integration, and interconnection of many small, separate record-keeping systems, each of which alone may seem innocuous, even benevolent, and wholly justifiable." (US Privacy Protection Study Commission 1977). In recent years, privacy advocates have increasingly lobbied for measures to safeguard the protection of personal data. One example of an organization committed to defending data protection privacy issues is the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation

What is ‘privacy’?

Privacy has long been regarded as a right that all individuals are entitled to enjoy. In 1928, American Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis defined privacy as "the right to be let alone". ( He also argued that privacy was a right that was cherished by most people. However, when he defined privacy, Justice Brandeis was living in a simpler world. His definition was made long before the emergence of the Information Age where someone's personal information can be rapidly captured, copied, compiled, published and transported around the world in a matter of seconds.

In the above example, you may just feel angry or scared on being watched. Nothing has suggested that your daily activities have been recorded, processed or even ‘sold’ to a third party. Things have however changed because of technological improvements. This includes the use of high-speed computers which can stored and processed huge amount of data at very low cost. Besides, data can easily be digitized and compressed for easy transmission and sharing. Personal data has a marketing value because it can help marketers to have their services or products promoted and drive sales, thereby leading to huge profits. As a result, in today's digital environment, personal information has become a highly sought after commodity that is collected and compiled, bought and sold. Information that we once regarded as ‘personal’ (such as our medical records, credit histories, spending habits) has now become ‘public’ data which is stored, shared, and even sold on the Internet. As businesses, government offices and web masters gain access to personal data, the protection of this information is becoming increasingly compromised. In addition, every time we click on to the Internet, we increase the possibility of being contacted by advertisers sending ‘spam’ or other unwanted or intrusive information.

In the above example, you will certainly become even more angry if you subsequently find out on an Internet homepage that your meeting with your girlfriend inside a coffee shop has been recorded into a video and displayed there. If you have some knowledge about digital know-how and use of the Internet, you may then know how this comes about. However, you may not have any of such knowledge and will be wondering how this can be so easily done.