Guangzhou camera surveillance cut in private, added in public

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

Guangzhou will ban closed-circuit television cameras in personal areas such as staff dormitories and hotel rooms to protect privacy, according to a new rule on monitoring devices set to come into effect next month.

But the regulation will also require surveillance devices to be installed in more than a dozen kinds of 'important venues' such as bus stations and government buildings to improve security.

The media has long described Guangzhou as a city under constant scrutiny from closed-circuit cameras. Police and private businesses such as hotels and real estate management companies have blanketed the city with the devices in an attempt to control rampant crime.

Municipal police said last year that the city would upgrade 90,000 existing cameras and install 160,000 new ones in 'major public places' in two years to improve public safety. It is not known whether the figures include those installed by private operators.

The new rules are the first to cover the devices and prohibit installation in 'private venues', including toilets. Guangzhou newspapers reported two years ago that six cameras were found inside public toilets at the city's main railway station.

The regulation also specifies that anyone who use the devices to film or monitor other people surreptitiously will be fined up to 500 yuan and detained for up to 10 days.

The 'major places' where camera are required include airports and railway stations, government buildings and toxic chemical storage centres, as well as schools and hospitals.

Mei Chuanqiang , a criminology specialist from Southwest University of Political Science and Law, said he welcomed the new regulation.

'CCTV systems can deter criminals but can also easily infringe on people's privacy,' Professor Mei said. 'We need these kind of rules to get a balance.'