PCPD warns of privacy invasion after celebrities' video released

April 17, 2019 15:26
A contrite Andy Hui apologizes to his wife Sammy Cheng at a press conference on Tuesday, after a video clip of him and actress Jacqueline Wong in an intimate scene went viral. Photo: HK China News Agency

Video footage showing two entertainment celebrities in a highly intimate scene inside a vehicle has sparked privacy concerns.

The 16-minute video, released by Apple Daily in its online edition on Tuesday, apparently came from a camera aboard what appeared a taxi, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

It shows pop singer and actor Andy Hui Chi-on, 51, and Television Broadcasts actress Jacqueline Wong Sum-wing, 30, the first runner-up in the 2012 Miss Hong Kong pageant, cuddling and kissing each other in the backseat of the car.

The video easily became grist for the local rumor mill as Hui is married to singer and actress Sammi Cheng Sau-man and Wong is known to have a boyfriend.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) warned that the release of the video without the consent of the personalities involved could be a violation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

In 2016, the taxi industry launched a pilot scheme allowing taxi drivers to install recording devices inside their cars for the purpose of gathering evidence in case of disputes with passengers.

Although the Transport and Housing Bureau had reminded taxi drivers at the time that they must abide by the privacy law in using such devices, the Transport Department is still drafting guidelines to regulate recording inside taxis.

The PCPD said a taxi, unlike other modes of public transport, is a semi-private place, and therefore taxi drivers who collect passengers’ data, including images and voices, must follow the rules stipulated in the privacy ordinance as well as the principles involving data collection – accuracy and retention, data use, data security, openness, as well as data access and correction.

The PCPD also said taxi drivers must alert their passengers that a security camera is in operation.

For those who violate the principles, the privacy commissioner may serve an enforcement notice to direct the data users concerned to take necessary steps to prevent or remedy the contravention, the PCPD noted.

Contravening the enforcement notice is an offense punishable with a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment

According to the privacy watchdog, it has received 16 inquiries related to video recordings inside taxis since 2017.

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, who is a member of the Committee on Taxi Service Quality, pointed out that taxi drivers only need to post notices inside their vehicle to alert passengers that a security camera is in operation.

He also said the images or voices recorded are to be kept by the drivers, but if they distribute those video clips, there will be no consequences for them.

As such, Tam suggested that all in-taxi recordings be stored in the meter as it is against the law if drivers open it on their own, and the recordings be encrypted so that no one but the authorities can read them.

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