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Congress Gets Proposal on Regulating Hidden Cameras

A proposal to regulate the use of hidden cameras to prevent infringement on personal privacy has been made by National People’s Congress deputies at the Fifth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress in Beijing for legislation.

This proposal, put forward by deputy Weng Weiquan, a 65-year-old expert in diseases related to the blood, received the support from 34 other NPC deputies.

"All of us have observed the emergence of the use of investigative hidden cameras and agree that it’s high time to make legislation to regulate this activity," said Weng Weiquan.

At the same time, Weng Weiquan acknowledged that positive effects can come from investigations with hidden cameras, effects that find their expression in the improvement of news gathering and the successful crackdown of many crimes.

"In many circumstances, to collect evidence for crime investigation, ‘secrete shooting’ and many concealed activities are necessary. However, according to today’s law, there are no rules to legalizing such activities, nor are there ones forbidding them. Therefore, it’s very difficult to define it as legal or illegal," Weng said.

According to Weng Weiquan, the current law also doesn’t stipulate which departments can use such technical methods, and which departments cannot, as well as in what field such surveillance activities can be applied. Under these circumstances, it’s very easy to misuse "secrete shooting" and to enlarge its application to an even wider area, especially to some personal fields that could make people lose their sense of safety. Meanwhile, there is no law stipulating what kind of information or evidence is valid, and what kind of information or evidence isn’t, and what kind of evidence can be open to public when applying to secret shooting in getting evidence.

"All of these problems need to be solved via legislation and well-regulated law," said Weng Weiquan.

Weng Weiquan, who works at a hospital attached to Qingdao University, gave informed reasons in putting forward this proposal, arguing that "secret shooting" techniques through imitating the investigation with hidden cameras is already threatening people’s personal privacy in their daily lives. He gave an example: At a local hospital, the private life of the director was secretly recorded by others with a hidden video camera. Even worse, tapes were reproduced and passed around the hospital, which ignited much dissatisfaction among hospital personnel. Besides, in some places, such surveillance cameras are publicly sold, making this equipment readily available. Weng Weiquan said that without some legal regulations of such "secret shooting" activities, people will feel uneasy and worried all the time, without any feeling of security.

(新华社 [Xinhua News Agency] March 11, 2002, translated by Feng Shu for china.org.cn)

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