Police requests to delete photos taken by journalist, alleged Hong Kong has personality rights, threatens reporter will be sued
Studentlocalism, a pro-independence party, planned to organize an anti-tyranny demonstration on June 16th, but banned by the police. Netizens subsequently called for a protest at 14:00. Police set up cordon lines around Causeway Bay, stopped and searched young adults. A journalist from web media, Cohesion Media Hong Kong, was being stopped by police and questioned for over 20 minutes. Nonetheless, the officer requested reporters to ask for permission before taking any photos of police or protesters as he falsely claimed that personality rights exist in Hong Kong. After jotting down the journalist’s personal information, the officer threatened the journalist to delete the photos as he would ask Privacy Commissioner to sue him.
Although the June 16th demonstration was banned by the police, Causeway Bay was still tightly controlled by police. Water cannons and armored cars were outside Victory Park standby, while riot police scattered around to stop and search passersby. Around 15:50, a person, who did not wear reflective vest but with a camera, was stopped and questioned by the police for over 20 minutes. When the man was being released and interviewed, he said he is a reporter from Cohesion Media but did not wear a press credential, so was being stopped by police immediately.
The police officer claimed that there is personality right in Hong Kong. He also said he was performing official duties and claimed that reporters need to ask for permission before taking police photos. The man replied that there is no personality right in Hong Kong. However, the officer emphasized that he should get approval before taking any photos. The man questioned if he required to ask each of them (the protesters) when recording the scene of protest. The officer’s answer is “yes”. Afterwards, the officer took the man’s personal information and phone number, alleged that “Hong Kong has personality rights. You must get approval before taking photos. The Privacy Commissioner may sue you if you did not do so.”The officer requested him to delete the photos. The officer searched his bag and poured his belongings on the floor. He said that press license was not publicly recognized, it was just a common staff card.
According to the web page of Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, there is no personality right established. However, when using the portraits for other purposes, this may offend other laws, such as libel.
Article 27 of the Basic Law:
“Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions; and to strike.”
Cap. 232A Police (Discipline) Regulations
3. Disciplinary offences
2) The offences against discipline are—
(j) making a statement which is false in a material particular in the course of his duty or in connexion with the discharge by the police force of any of its duties or functions;
Police General Orders Ch 39
39-05 Working with Media Representatives All officers at the scene of an incident shall:-
(a) facilitate the work of the news media as much as possible and accord media representatives consideration and courtesy; and
(b) not block camera lenses.
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