Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ18: Peeping and clandestine photo-taking

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat in the Legislative Council today (June 11):


     It has been learnt that because of the improper designs or use of materials (e.g. using clear glass for parapets, escalator balustrades and partition walls) in some buildings managed by government departments and private organisations (e.g. the Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Public Library, Hong Kong Central Library, Hysan Place, PopCorn and the recently opened PMQ, etc.), there are currently quite a number of black spots where women are susceptible to accidental exposure.  In addition, gadgets currently available for sale on the market which may be used for clandestine video-recording/photo-taking are increasingly miniaturised and easy to be concealed, thereby defying precautions.  Some members of the public have indicated that peeping and even clandestine video-recording/photo-taking activities at black spots of accidental exposure are increasingly rampant.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the Buildings Department has issued guidelines to Authorised Persons prescribing that the designs and use of materials for public places in buildings should avoid the creation of locations where users will become susceptible to accidental exposure; if it has, of the details; if not, whether it will issue such guidelines;

(2) to which government department members of the public may at present lodge complaints when their complaints to the management of the public places about the high-risk locations for accidental exposure in the relevant premises are in vain, and which department will take follow-up actions;

(3) as some members from the legal profession have pointed out that due to the difficulties for the authorities in proving that a person has peeped on others, the numbers of relevant prosecutions and convicted cases are on the low side, whether the Government will consider amending the legal requirements for proof for such cases, so as to curb peeping behaviours; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) whether it will consider regularly releasing information on convicted cases relating to peeping at black spots of accidental exposure in order to deter others from peeping at such locations; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) of the number of complaints received by the authorities in the past ten years about clandestine video-recording/photo-taking activities, as well as the number of cases in which the persons concerned were prosecuted; and

(6) whether it has reviewed if the penalties under the existing legislation for acts of peeping and clandestine video-recording/photo-taking are too lenient, hence lacking deterrent effects; if the outcome of the review is in the affirmative, whether it will raise the relevant penalties; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The issues raised in the question are related to various bureaux and departments (B/Ds). Having consulted the relevant B/Ds, the consolidated reply is as follows:

(1) According to the information provided by the Development Bureau, the Buildings Department (BD) regulates the planning, design and construction of buildings and associated works on private land under the powers conferred by the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123) (BO) to ensure their compliance with safety and health standards. In this connection, BO prescribes building design and construction standards on various aspects including structural and fire safety as well as sanitation.  However, matters not related to building safety and health, such as avoidance of accidental exposure, fall outside the jurisdiction of BO. Hence, BO does not regulate the materials used in building works or the design of buildings for the avoidance of accidental exposure, and BD has no plan to issue guidelines for this purpose.  As regards problems in private premises (e.g. shopping arcades as mentioned in the question), members of the public may wish to express their views to the management of such premises direct.

(2) According to the information provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Hong Kong Central Library and Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Public Library in question have already taken appropriate measures, including strengthening the patrol by security guards and sticking of opaque stickers on glass surfaces.

     According to the information provided by the Development Bureau, the Architectural Services Department and PMQ Management Company Limited have considered the views of the public and have already completed the improvement works at PMQ, including installation of panels between the treads of open staircases and the placement of opaque stickers at some critical areas of the glass balustrades.  Besides, display boards have also been installed on the underside of the skylights of the underground interpretation area to address concerns on the sightline issue.

(3) to (6) According to section 160 (3) of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200), if any person loiters in a public place or in the common parts of any building and his presence there, either alone or with others, causes any person reasonably to be concerned for his safety or well-being, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for two years. No statistical figures of criminal offences in relation to peeping in public places are kept.

     Clandestine taking of indecent photos in public places may constitute an offence under section 160 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) (i.e. loitering) with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two years, or section 17B of the Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245) (i.e. disorder in public places) with a maximum penalty of a fine at level 2 and imprisonment for 12 months, or under the common law offence of outraging public decency with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for seven years.  There is no plan to raise the maximum penalty for the aforesaid offences. Figures of cases involving clandestine taking of indecent photos in public places handled by the Police between 2004 and April 2014 are at Annex.

     If the photo-taking activities involve personal data as defined in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO) (Cap. 486), and the collection and handling of such personal data contravenes the data protection principles as set out in Schedule 1 to the PDPO, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data may issue an enforcement notice to relevant persons. Contravention of an enforcement notice is a criminal offence with maximum penalty, on first conviction, of a fine at level 5 and imprisonment for 2 years plus a daily penalty.  There is no plan to raise the penalties concerned. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data does not maintain figures of complaint cases involving clandestine photo-taking.

Ends/Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:08


Print this page