Thu, Mar 07, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Taipei acts on privacy concerns

PINHOLE CAMERAS Responding to the public outcry over the unauthorized use of the tiny devices, the city plans to make property owners inspect their facilities

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Responding to public concern over the pervasiveness of hidden pinhole cameras, Taipei City Government officials have drafted measures to require owners of public facilities to inspect their premises once a month for the presence of such devices.

"Fines of up to NT$300,000 would be imposed on those who fail to comply with this regulation," said Liu Che-hsiung (劉哲雄), director of the Division of Building Standards under the city's Bureau of Public Works.

"The purpose of this proposal is to safeguard individuals' privacy," Liu said.

The move will also "strengthen public security and protect the general public, especially women, from being victimized because of hidden pinhole cameras," according to Liu.

In January, a city councilor warned passengers at Taipei's MRT stations to look out for suspicious individuals suspected of taking photos up the skirts of female passengers with hidden cameras. Such photos have ended up on Japanese pornography Web sites.

Prior to that, a high-profile sex scandal erupted after a local Chinese-language magazine distributed a VCD recorded by a hidden pinhole camera that allegedly showed the former chief of Hsinchu's Cultural Affairs Bureau, Chu Mei-feng (璩美鳳), having a sexual encounter with a married man.

According to the city's proposed regulation, places where the public can gather for entertainment, transportation, commercial activities and the like must carry out inspections around their changing rooms and restrooms for possible hidden pinhole cameras.

"In other words, places such as hotels, motels, movie theaters, restaurants, KTVs, pubs, department stores, schools, parks, MRT stations and swimming pools are all subject to this requirement," Liu said.

Liu said that the Division of Building Standards would not carry out the inspections, but rather, building owners and companies would have to contact professionals to carry out the task.

According to the proposed rules, these businesses would have to include the results of the monthly checks in their annual public security reports submitted to the Division of Building Standards and the Taipei City Fire Department.

Liu said that the proposed stipulation would be reviewed and discussed by the Bureau of Public Works during its meeting today.

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