Net shows public pool Peeping Tom snaps

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 12:00am

Swimmers at public pools are being warned to be on their guard as police investigate website images of Hong Kong women clandestinely photographed naked in showers and changing rooms.

The technology crime division of the Commercial Crime Bureau is exploring how the images were taken and who posted them on the US-hosted website.

Other pictures on the website, which has been operating for several years, are shots taken up women's skirts on escalators and in shops.

The Leisure and Culture Services Department said yesterday it had stepped up inspections at its 36 pools and 32 beaches, but refused to say where the photographs had been taken.

'We will not identify the location as it may have the effect of letting people know this particular one may be suitable for illegal shooting,' a spokesman said.

No extra staff would be hired for changing rooms, but staff had been told to make frequent checks. The department would also consider installing doors instead of curtains on showers, he said.

'We are urging all users of changing rooms to be on the alert. If they find anyone acting suspiciously or doing something like illegal shooting, they should inform swimming pool staff,' he said.

No hidden cameras have been found in any of the premises, making it likely that the images were captured with mobile phone cameras. The spokesman said it was probable that women took the photos, as men would have been noticed in the female changing area.

Asked if it was possible to ban camera phones from changing rooms, he said: 'We are considering whether this is feasible, bearing in mind that you would have to check the bags of each swimmer entering the complex.'

Legislator Fred Li Wah-ming said the government had two options - to improve privacy in changing rooms or to expand existing legislation.

'The LCSD should come up with more effective measures. If it cannot, we have to legislate and perhaps give the staff the power to confiscate those phones,' Mr Li said.

Technology crime division officers said that if the offending website was hosted in Hong Kong, it could quickly be shut down, but because it was hosted in the US, it was more difficult to deal with.

Matthew Lee Kwok-on, associate dean at City University's faculty of business, pointed out that in South Korea, which has had a similar problem over the years, phone makers had attached a sound to the phone's camera, so that when a photo was taken, a loud clicking was heard.