Beijing's public security bureau said recently it would
undertake a thorough check of the use of closed-circuit TV cameras
in the city to ensure people's rights and privacy are properly
The move comes after a number of complaints from members of the
public who say their privacy is being invaded by the cameras.
Chu Jing, the bureau's head, said surveillance cameras are
permitted only in designated areas and that no one has the right to
use or distribute the information or images captured by them.
"Any company or bureau that breaks the rules will be fined up to
30,000 yuan (US$4,000)," Chu said.
Security cameras have become more prevalent in the capital since
the introduction of a new regulation last year.
In a bid to ensure public security and prevent possible
terrorist attacks during the Olympics, the Beijing government
approved a ruling that said, "major and busy public places,
government bureaus, traffic centers and main infrastructure areas
should install image information system cameras to monitor and
ensure public security".
The city now has about 265,000 such cameras, according to
figures from the public security bureau.
For local storekeepers the cameras are a major plus.
Zhang Jiang, the manager of a convenience store, said: "The
surveillance camera system is a great benefit, as we now need to
employ only one guard to safeguard our goods."
But not everyone is so impressed.
Wang Yu, who works in a bank in Beijing, said: "I feel like Will
Smith in Enemy of the State. All day long, I live in the
gaze of surveillance cameras, from my desk to the elevator, and
even at the shopping mall."
In recent years, closed-circuit television cameras have become
commonplace in the country's urban centers.
In south China's Guangzhou, for example, some 130,000 cameras
will be installed by the end of the year.
Similarly, in northeast China's Shenyang, most of the city's
17,000 taxis have had cameras installed to prevent theft and
Professor Wang Weiguo from the China University of Political
Science and Law supported the announcement by the Beijing security
"The regulation should set legal boundaries on the use of
information collected by the cameras to ensure the protection of
people's privacy," he said.
He said the government should introduce firm measures to deter
possible abuse of the cameras.
(China Daily July 4, 2007)