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03 Sep 2020

When a search of a mobile phone or device by the Hong Kong Police is lawful

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This update is about the recent important Court of Appeal decision in SHAM WING KAN v COMMISSIONER OF POLICE [2020] HKCA 186 which considered the Hong Kong Police’s power to search the contents of a mobile phone or device (“mobile”) without a search warrant when exercising a general power of arrest under section 50(6) of the Police Force Ordinance (“PFO”) .

In reaching its decision the Court of Appeal has attempted to strike a balance between privacy interests and legitimate law enforcement objectives. As explained below, it was held that the Police should in most cases obtain a search warrant before they proceeded to search an arrested person’s mobile.

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