Magazines dispute privacy orders over nude and intimate photos of TVB stars

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 4:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 9:05am

Two entertainment magazines are challenging the privacy watchdog's powers ordering them to take certain actions after they published naked or intimate photographs of TVB performers at home without consent in 2011.

Sudden Weekly and Face Magazine, both under the Next Media group, say Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang is not empowered to direct them to draft privacy guidelines to his satisfaction. The guidelines were meant to impose systematic monitoring on the collection of personal data via covert and long-distance photography.

"[It] is irrational for the commissioner to impose an open-ended obligation on the [magazines] for ensuring compliance with the privacy guidelines," the publications say in a court application for a judicial review of Chiang's powers.

"[Such] direction unreasonably empowers the commissioner to intervene in the [magazines'] business whenever there is purported non-compliance with the … guidelines." They want the High Court to set aside the order, effectively making it legally void.

In June 2011, Sudden Weekly carried photos of actor Bosco Wong Chung-chak walking naked around his home in Fo Tan, while Face ran intimate images of Vincent Wong Ho-shun and Yoyo Chen Chi-yiu at their home in Tseung Kwan O.

All were snapped using long lenses from as far as one kilometre away.

The commissioner found the magazines had breached the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance by collecting the trio's personal information "by unfair means".

The two titles followed his direction, issued in a February 2012 notice, to delete all the published photos permanently from their databases and websites.

But they describe as "unreasonable" the order to draw up the guidelines, as well as that which requires them to take all reasonable steps to ensure their staff will comply with the guidelines within 21 days of the notice. They argue Chiang erred in concluding the photo-taking amounted to collection of personal data.