China should start drafting its first law on privacy protection as soon as possible, a law expert said, citing that a strong privacy law could have prevented the circulation of pornographic photos of leading Hong Kong celebrities having sex with each other.
"There is no privacy protection law in China so far, nor is there a single item in any laws and regulations that covers privacy protection," said Yu Guofu, a lawyer with the Beijing-based Internet Society of China.
"The only mention of privacy is in a judicial explanation by the Supreme Court of China that focused on the protection of the right of reputation," he said.
Yu made the speech in an interview with the China Youth Daily last week, less than two weeks before China's top legislature, the National People's Congress convenes its annual session on March 5.
"Moreover, there had been scarcely any research on the right of privacy for a long time in China," Yu added.
He said the recent sex photo scandal in Hong Kong is the most high-profile outcome of China's lack of a privacy law.
"Publishing these photos has severely intruded the privacy right of those stars involved," Yu said.
"And let's not forget the bad influence those pictures have exerted on Chinese Internet users which include not only adults but children too," he said, saying that the picture would do "unredeemable damage" to children.
Yu urged China to set up a privacy law as soon as possible to prevent similar occurrences in the future, and to direct the public to cultivate respect for other people's privacy.
"Anyone could be the victim in the next photo scandal without a privacy protection law," he said.
The Hong Kong photo scandal started with the uploading of hundreds of sexually-explicit photos starting on January 27 featuring Canadian-born singer-actor Edison Chen and various Hong Kong starlets. The pictures have spread like wildfire on the Internet ever since.
Chinese mainland police have so far apprehended 11 people for allegedly producing, selling and purchasing discs of nude celebrity photos, and Chinese Internet search engine Baidu.com has been asked by a Beijing Internet self-discipline organization to make a public apology for spreading the photos.
(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2008)