Fri, Jul 09, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Group warns of too-candid cameras

COMPETING GADGETS As cameras get tinier and cheaper, the devices that can sense them also are increasing in effectiveness, a women's group advised

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A representative of the Modern Women's Foundation holds a hidden camera that could be hidden inside a cigarette packet at a press conference yesterday in Taipei.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

A women's group yesterday urged people to be aware of hidden cameras in public areas.

"With the availability of advanced technology, hidden cameras could be as tiny as to be placed in a screw, on a button or in a cigarette box ? they could be anywhere," said Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛), the president of the Modern Women's Foundation, at a press conference in Taipei.

According to the foundation, the prices of hidden cameras range from a few thousand NT dollars to NT$10,000.

"Since the prices are so low, these hidden cameras are easy to obtain. We urge authorities to make registration of buyers mandatory," Pan said.

Last year news reports publicized the criminal case of a travel agency manager, who when claiming to be hiring new employees asked female job-seekers to change their outfits as part of the interview procedure. A hidden camera was installed in the office.

"This incident has been treated as criminal case and handled through legal procedures," Pan said.

"We would like to warn new college graduates to be aware of the potential traps that could be found at job interviews," he said.

Jack Van (范國勇), Central Police University's general affairs dean, had other advice for job seekers.

"First, make sure the time for the interview is an appropriate one, and always try to bring a chaperone along. If such an escort is not available, interviewees ought to let family members know about the job interview," Van said.

In public areas where hidden cameras could be placed, Van said women should be aware of their surroundings.

"In places like a hot spring resort, customers should be aware of the employees who work there, and look to see if they have anything suspicious on them while carrying out their tasks," said Van.

A specialist on hidden cameras, Lawrence Lee (李浩綸), said awareness is the best preventive measure.

"One should always be aware of objects in one's surroundings that seem out of place, since those objects could have hidden cameras in them.

Popular locations for hidden cameras are trash cans in bathrooms or glass in dressing rooms; uneven surfaces also are popular spots," Lee said.

Lee noted there are several gadgets available on the marketthat can detect some hidden cameras that range in price from NT$880 to NT$120,000.

For instance, Lee said the most basic detector is shaped like a pen and emits a red light upon sensing a hidden camera within a 1m radius.

"This pen-sized detector is good for an enclosed area. However, for a large public space, bigger and more expensive equipment is required," Lee said.

Both peeping and installing hidden cameras are crimes under the law.

"Covert observation in places such as bathrooms, dressing rooms or bedrooms violates Article 83 of the Social Order Law (社會秩序法), while installing hidden cameras violates Article 315 of the Criminal Code," said Hong Hsiu-mei (洪秀美), a member of the Taipei City Women's Police Force.

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