Camera-phone ban too hard to enforce, says minister

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 12:00am

It would be difficult to enforce a law banning mobile phones equipped with cameras from public changing rooms, the secretary for home affairs said yesterday.

Patrick Ho Chi-ping told the Legislative Council it would be hard to judge whether the users were taking photos.

'The number of users of these mobile phones is on the rise,' he said. 'But it does not necessarily follow that unlawful acts would be performed when people carry such mobile phones into changing rooms. The prohibition will bring great inconvenience to the law-abiding users.'

He said taking photos or making video-recordings in public venues was an offence only when it caused an 'obstruction or annoyance to other people'.

He said police received 12 complaints last year on clandestine photographing, and most involved female victims. These cases usually occurred in crowded places such as escalators and shopping arcades. Seven cases were tried and offenders were convicted for loitering, disorderly behaviour in a public place or outraging public decency.

'On average, there is one such offence every month. There is no sign of an increase,' Dr Ho said.

While legislators questioned why there were laws governing the use of cameras in cinemas but not inside changing rooms, Dr Ho said such a ban could inconvenience too many people.