It's a good thing that Easy Finder magazine is challenging the 'indecent' classification that the Obscene Articles Tribunal slapped on its controversial recent issue - with photos of a pop star changing her clothes. That's because it will put the focus of discussion where it belongs: on privacy, not obscenity. I haven't seen the photographs in question, but according to one press account, the pop star, Gillian Chung Yan-tung, a member of the female pop duo Twins, 'is shown naked from the shoulder up, but her breasts are not revealed'. Chung may well have a very sexy neck but, for the life of me, I cannot imagine that any photograph showing a woman naked from the shoulder up can be indecent or obscene. The public is incensed: close to 3,000 people have complained to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority. Chung herself is, quite rightly, indignant and is taking legal action. But the issue of privacy should not be confused with that of obscenity - the two are quite different, and should be dealt with differently. There may well be times when both elements are present, but the violation of privacy does not always result in obscenity. The publication of revealing photographs of a model who willingly poses for them does not raise issues of privacy, but their publication may well be deemed obscene or indecent. On the other hand, photographs secretly taken, as in the case of Chung, may not be obscene but their publication could be a serious violation of privacy - which in Hong Kong is ostensibly protected by law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, extended to Hong Kong in 1976, provides in Article 17: 'No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation'; and 'Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.' This provision is reproduced in Article 14 of Hong Kong's Bill of Rights Ordinance, enacted in 1991. As if this was not enough, Article 29 of the Basic Law declares: 'The homes and other premises of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable. Arbitrary or unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a resident's home or other premises shall be prohibited.' This is followed by Article 30, which states in part: 'The freedom and privacy of communication of Hong Kong residents shall be protected by law.' So, it would seem, the privacy of Hong Kong residents is triply protected: by an international covenant, Hong Kong's own bill of rights and the Basic Law. And yet, in reality, there is little protection of privacy. All of these documents require implementing legislation before they take effect. Thus, the covenant (and by extension the bill of rights) declares that everyone has 'the right to the protection of the law' against arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy. But no law has been enacted to provide such protection. Similarly, the Basic Law requires the 'freedom and privacy of communications' of Hong Kong residents to be protected by law. Again, no such law has been drafted. And so, 30 years after the covenant was extended to Hong Kong, 15 years after the enactment of the Bill of Rights Ordinance and nine years after the Basic Law came into effect, there is no legislation to which Hongkongers can appeal even in the case of a gross invasion of privacy - as the Chung case undoubtedly is. The invasion of privacy can take many forms, many of which do not have to do with sex. For example, a person who wears a hairpiece may well feel his privacy invaded if photographs of his bald pate were to be published. Similarly, a woman at a hairdresser's salon who is preparing for a major social event may well be mortified if photographs of her hair in curlers were to be made public. The Easy Finder case highlights the crying need for privacy legislation. If the magazine's challenge to the 'indecent' classification of its cover succeeds, then there is likely to be an even greater groundswell for the government to draft appropriate legislation - even if it's 30 years late. Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based writer and commentator.