Metro says sorry for kissing video, but couple may still sue

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am

Shanghai's metro company came clean yesterday, admitting video shown on the internet of a young couple kissing came from its surveillance system and apologising to the pair for violating their privacy.

'This severely violated our management regulations and affected the reputation of the couple as well as the company. We would like to extend a sincere apology to the couple,' the company was quoted as saying in the Metro Express newspaper.

But the man captured on the video said he and his girlfriend were still contemplating legal action. 'I'll see their solution and then discuss with my family whether we can accept it,' said the man, who asked not to be identified but has hired a lawyer.

The video footage, which shows the lovers embracing and exchanging several rounds of kisses, was an instant hit on the internet. It has been viewed at least 100,000 times after it was posted on video-sharing websites, but it also sparked a debate over privacy.

The three-minute video showed the man and woman, both 25, bidding farewell at the Youyi station in September. The camera angle of the video changes - a tell-tale sign of a surveillance set-up. The metro company claimed at first that one of its employees used his mobile phone to record the incident from a security camera monitor.

It said three employees were directly involved but two had already left the company, including the one who posted the video online. The voices of four employees, two men and two women, can be heard.

The company said it was still 'collecting evidence' to determine its legal responsibility and pledged to impose stricter rules and supervision to prevent similar cases.

The man said he and the woman were still together but he was pressured to resign and take a part-time job. The woman still holds an administrative job at a local company.

'My girlfriend was still depressed, although she kept her job at her company, but it didn't affect our relationship,' he said.

Legal experts have called for stronger privacy legislation to regulate the use of security cameras and impose penalties for abuses.

Shanghai plans to install more than 200,000 surveillance cameras by 2010. The city already has a wide network to monitor traffic conditions.

Underground voyeurs

Excerpts of the Shanghai Metro employees' dialogue

Man 1 Zoom in, it's not clear.

Woman The woman really wants it. She's more active.

Man 1 They are using tongues.

Man 2 The woman is pretty.

Woman I think the woman is better [looking] than the man ... Oh, idiots, they're at it again ... The woman tells him to go, but they both want more.

Man 2 Why not continue tomorrow? Why not get a room?

Man 1 Yes, yes, they should get a room. (telephone rings)

Woman You go

Man 2 OK, I'll get it. 'Hello? I'll call you back'.