‘Debtors blacklist’ boss takes down some site info
The brains behind the website naming and shaming Macau casino gamblers for alleged bad debts has taken down telephone numbers and addresses of those blacklisted. He has also removed details of the size of the alleged debt and ‘bounty’ information inviting viewers to shop them to creditors. Photographs and names of the ‘debtors’ remain online.
Website operator Charlie Choi Kei Ian denied to Business Daily any suggestion he had taken some personal information offline because of pressure from the police.
“The local police did not request us to take down the website so far,” said Mr Choi. “And we also do not know what they are investigating,” he added.
But Judiciary Police spokesman Choi Iat Peng told Business Daily yesterday: “It appears that the website has violated the local privacy ordinances as it discloses some personal data like telephone numbers and names.”
He stated the force is “still investigating” whether the blacklist breached Macau’s criminal laws. “This is the first time that we encountered a case like this,” he added.
The dual-language Chinese-English website known in English as ‘Wonderful World’ has been featuring a blacklist with about 70 people for about two months.
The website operator said he “was not concerned with any legal risks,” namely the possible violation of privacy laws.
“I do not think there are any [legal] risks for the blacklist. What are these risks exactly?” Mr Choi said over the phone.
The ‘Wonderful World’ website is hosted by a Singapore server says the Judiciary Police. The force told Business Daily it “cannot disclose” what action if any, it may request from the Singapore authorities.
“A majority of the gambling debts of these debtors were made in Macau,” the website boss Mr Choi told us. “But in many cases both the debtors and the creditors are not from Macau.”
The debtors’ information is “wholly provided” by the gambling creditors, added Mr Choi. He could not confirm if the debtors had been gambling in VIP rooms or on mass gaming floors, or what form of credit the debtors had obtained.
On Tuesday, an advertisement on the Chinese version of the website said the blacklist was the “best publicity platform” to “help chase debts for the gaming sector” and “exercises a deterrent effect on cheaters”.
The notice has since been changed. It now says that “Wonderful World is not a debt-collecting company, (…) [it] just provides a platform free-of-conditions for people bullied by cheaters”.
“We will contact the Judiciary Police to see what we should do to follow up on the investigation,” said Mr Choi. “We are willing to face any [legal] consequences that come after the investigation.”
“We do not receive any service charge or commission from the creditors for posting the profiles,” said Mr Choi.
About HK$30 million (US$3.8 million) in gambling debt incurred in Macau has been “successfully collected” by the creditors after posting the debtors’ information on the blacklist, he stressed.
“The open disclosure did work in recovering debts” from about 10 gambling cases, said Mr Choi.