Hong Kong keeps open mind on CCTV surveillance in public places to deter crime

Authorities in Hong kong will keep an open mind about permanently installing closed-circuit TV in public places to help maintain law and order, while being mindful of privacy concerns, the Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said. He told lawmakers, the Government will “maintain an open mind” towards opinions in the community on following other cities such as London. Lai was responding to a question raised by lawmaker Michael Tien.

He said he will continue to listen to different views in the community. “However, currently we do not have any plan to permanently install CCTV systems in public places to maintain overall law and order but not for certain specified purposes.”

He also said the relevant legal purposes, necessity and protection of privacy must be considered.  “As a matter of fact, the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance clearly stipulates that personal data shall not be collected unless the data is collected for a lawful purpose directly related to a function or activity of the data user who is to use the data; the collection of the data is necessary for or directly related to that purpose; and the data is adequate but not excessive in relation to that purpose,” Lai said.

He said Government departments are studying proposals on using information technology, including CCTV cameras, to monitor and prosecute traffic violations, such as illegal parking, illegal picking up/setting down of passengers and loading/unloading of goods, including examining the legal and technical feasibility of installing such systems for prosecution purposes.