Police officer holds up reporter’s ID card to live camera

Shopping protests were held in different malls today. Police swarmed into Tai Po Mega Mall and arrested 3 protesters. A Stand News reporter was stopped and searched, and was asked to show his Hong Kong identity card. A police officer intentionally held up the ID card in front of a live TV camera for around 40 seconds. A lawyer criticised that there was no legal grounds for the action, and that the act was a violation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. The officer in question has failed to fulfill the responsibility of a data user.

Chief Editor of Stand News Chung Pui-kuen stated that he would assist the reporter to file a formal complaint, and would request for information on the masked officer’s name and his number.

The reporter was at the time asking a man holding extendible batons if he was a police officer in plain-clothes. The officer and another riot police then got into a skirmish with the reporter, and the policemen insulted the reporter with foul languages. The reporter was then asked to enter the blockade and prove his identity.

The police officer in plain-clothes warned the reporter that he would be arrested if he did not cooperate, and then held up his Legco press card and another press card from Hong Kong Journalists Association to the live camera. The reporter immediately asked the police officer not to show in front of the camera, but the police once again showed the reporter’s Hong Kong identity card to the live camera for about 40 seconds, during which he deliberately put the ID card even closer to the camera for a clearer view to the audience.

The reporter criticised that the action is against the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, but the police refuted that the camera was switched on by the reporter himself, and as such he should not accuse others for recording him. The reporter was then asked to leave the mall by officer from the Police Public Relations Branch.

Daniel Wong Kwok-tung, lawyer and member of the Election Committee of the legal sector, claimed that such an action is completely lack of legal grounds. He emphasised that the police did not have the authority to do so, and that the action was not related to arrest, check, and stop and search, and that he can be sued for any loss. He said that the act was against the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, and he suggested a complaint to Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD). PCPD is expected to condemn the act and refer the case to Independent Police Complaints Council.

Wong explained, police has the right to check identity card and collect data on it, but must protect the data with cautious to prevent misuse. Deliberate showing of identity card in front of live camera was a complete breach of privacy principles. In response to the police officer who said the responsibility was on the reporter who switched on the camera, Wong asked if it was the responsibility of citizens to close their eyes if police showed it to people on the site.

Chief Editor of Stand News Chung Pui-kuen said he would be assisting the reporter to file a formal complaint to PCPD, and has requested Hong Kong Police Force to provide the name and number of the police officer.

Stand News has removed the live video on Facebook and uploaded a version that has the sensitive information hidden on the identity card.

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