Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (May 28):
Some members of the public have relayed to me that certain auction websites and shops selling photographic equipment are putting up for sale photographic equipment that is claimed to be suitable for clandestine photo-taking. With the constant drop in sizes and prices of such equipment, cases of under-ladies' skirt clandestine photo-taking using such equipment happen from time to time, and there is even hearsay that clandestine photo-taking equipment has been installed in public lavatories. Besides, drones (also known as "unmanned aerial vehicles") equipped with surveillance devices (including zoom cameras) have also become popular in recent years. The aforesaid situation has aroused public concern about the invasion of the privacy of members of the public by clandestine photo-taking activities. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of reports of clandestine photo-taking received by the authorities in the past three years, and among them, the number of cases of clandestine photo-taking using drones;
(2) given that the Law Reform Commission's Review of Sexual Offences Sub-committee has pointed out in its consultation paper entitled "Rape and Other Non-consensual Sexual Offences" that "it is outside the scope of the Sub-committee to address whether conducts other than 'under-the-skirt' photography which involve an infringement of privacy should be covered by the criminal law", whether the Government has any plan to regulate clandestine photo-taking activities other than "under-the-skirt" photography; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) of the clandestine photo-taking activities which currently constitute criminal offences and the offences involved;
(4) apart from curbing, by way of legislation, those clandestine photo-taking activities that should be banned, whether the Government will study the regulation of the manufacture, import and sale of micro-photographic equipment (e.g. establishing a licensing system); if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(5) whether it has conducted studies on the impacts of the increasing popularity of drones on the protection of the privacy of members of the public; if it has, of the outcome; if not, the reasons for that?
The issues raised by the Honourable Member fall under the purview of different policy bureaux. The reply with input from relevant bureaux consolidated is as follows:
(1), (2) and (3) According to information provided by the Police, clandestine taking of indecent photos in public places may contravene "loitering" under section 160 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) (Note 1); "disorder in public places" under section 17B of the Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245) (Note 2) or the common law offence of "outraging public decency". In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Police respectively handled 231, 282 and 329 cases which involved clandestine taking of indecent photos in public places.
In addition, if the photo-taking activities involve personal data (Note 3) as defined in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486), and the collection and handling of the personal data contravenes the data protection principles as set out in Schedule 1 to the Ordinance, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data may issue an enforcement notice to relevant persons under section 50 of the Ordinance.
(4) and (5) According to information provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau, unmanned aircraft systems are classified as aircraft, the operation of which is governed by relevant civil aviation legislation. Any person who operates an unmanned aircraft system exceeding 7 kilogrammes (without fuel) for leisure photo-taking, or, regardless of its size or weight, operates an unmanned aircraft system for reward, must lodge an application with the Civil Aviation Department (CAD). Aircraft not exceeding 7 kilogrammes (without fuel) is classified as small aircraft. Any person who operates such aircraft for leisure photo-taking is not required to lodge an application with the CAD. Nevertheless, the relevant person has the responsibility to ensure its safe operation, and the operation of such aircraft is governed by Article 48 of the Air Navigation (Hong Kong) Order 1995. There are wide legitimate uses of drones (unmanned aircraft systems) and micro-photographic equipment. Except as mentioned above, currently there is no specific regulation on drones (unmanned aircraft systems) and micro-photographic equipment.
Note 1: According to section 160 of the Crimes Ordinance, (1) a person who loiters in a public place or in the common parts of any building with intent to commit an arrestable offence commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $10,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months; (2) any person who loiters in a public place or in the common parts of any building and in any way wilfully obstructs any person using that place or the common parts of that building, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for 6 months; and (3) if any person loiters in a public place or in the common parts of any building and his presence there, either alone or with others, causes any person reasonably to be concerned for his safety or well-being, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for 2 years.
Note 2: According to section 17B of the Public Order Ordinance, (1) any person who at any public gathering acts in a disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business for which the public gathering was called together or incites others so to act shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine at level 2 and to imprisonment for 12 months; and (2) any person who in any public place behaves in a noisy or disorderly manner, or uses, or distributes or displays any writing containing, threatening, abusive or insulting words, with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be caused, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine at level 2 and to imprisonment for 12 months.
Note 3: This refers to any data from which it is practicable for the identity of a living individual to be ascertained, and stored in a form in which access to or processing of the data is practicable.
Ends/Wednesday, May 28, 2014