'Police made excuses when rejecting video request' - RTHK
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'Police made excuses when rejecting video request'

2020-04-10 HKT 18:51
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  • 'Police made excuses when rejecting video request'
The police have been accused of misusing privacy laws to make things difficult for a woman who wants to get footage officers took of her so that she can lodge a complaint against an officer. She alleges the footage shows her removing her dress in the open.

The woman, surnamed Chan, said the police want to charge her up to HK$100,000 for the footage, and officers said they are requesting the money according to the law.

She was on a bus ride back home in October when police stopped the vehicle and asked to search everyone on board.

Chan told RTHK that a female officer asked her to take off her one-piece dress - in front of other male officers and passengers. After she'd done so, the officer did not search her body, nor check the dress.

She said although she had underwear on, she still wanted to lodge a complaint to the police's internal complaint unit. She asked the force for videos they took of her that night, citing the Personal Data Ordinance.

The force refused, saying the footage involves the personal information of others. Chan then told them that officers can blur the relevant parts.

But she said the force told her officers don't have the software to do that. And she would have to pay for the computer software as well as the wages for the officer doing the task - if she insists on getting the footage.

"But I've seen police uploading footage on their social media, blurring parts of the video," Chan said, adding that the officer in charge told her that those videos might have been processed by the officers' personal computers.

The force ended up refusing her application, saying the footage is involved in a criminal investigation.

"Every time, the police kept giving me different reasons in refusing my request. It is clear that the reasons are made up....I think it's unreasonable," Chan said.

Responding to RTHK's inquiries, the police said that it has the right to charge fees for these requests, per the privacy laws.

The Privacy Commissioner's office said generally speaking, such charges have to be "directly-related and necessary" to the request. The office refused to comment on specific cases.

But barrister Anson Wong said these fees are usually related to photocopying and burning discs. He said it would be against the legislative intention of the privacy laws if expensive charges are used to deter the public from getting information involving themselves.